Wild Hogs in Oklahoma: How Many Are There and Where Do They Live?

Written by Alan Lemus
Updated: April 28, 2023
© iStock.com/chingkai huang
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Key Points:

  • Wild hogs are the offspring of domesticated pigs that escaped captivity. The hogs are prolific breeders and have increased their numbers to 1.5 million in Oklahoma.
  • These highly sociable creatures reside in groups known as sounders which enable them to cooperate in food foraging and self-defense.
  • Wild hogs have destroyed crops, eroded soil, and destroyed the habitats of native animals. They are aggressive and dangerous to humans.

Wild hogs, or feral hogs, are domesticated pigs that made their way back to the wild and are no longer under human control. They’re a popular game animal in Oklahoma but a major concern for farmers and other landowners. The invasive species destroy crops, contribute to soil erosion, and compete with native species for habitat and other resources. Today, their populations are expanding throughout Oklahoma. Below, we explore the number of wild hogs in the state and where exactly they live.

How Many Wild Hogs Are There in Oklahoma?

Wild Boar, Forest, Animals In The Wild, Large, Domestic Pig, Feral Hog
Population growth of wild hogs is attributed to abundant food supplies, mild winters, and lack of predators.

©iStock.com/JMrocek

Oklahoma’s wild hog population is estimated at over 1.5 million, spread across 70 of the state’s 77 counties. At 1.5 million, Oklahoma has the second highest feral hog population in the U.S., after Texas’ three million, making it a preferred destination for many hunters.

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Across the US, about six million wild hogs inhabit 35 states. While this might sound like good news to pork-loving hunters, it’s bad news for landowners and conservationists.

Population growth is attributed to abundant food supplies, mild winters, and lack of predators. Additionally, they’re highly adaptable and successful in various settings.

The wild hog population has a massive effect on Oklahoma. These animals can spread diseases to domestic cattle and wildlife, in addition to destroying crops and property. Furthermore, their foraging activities can erode the soil, destroy delicate wetlands, and harm other habitats.

Each year, it can cost millions to control wild hog populations and repair the harm they create.

Understanding the Wild Hog Problem

For wildlife managers, feral hogs are dangerous because of their destructive tendencies and quick reproduction rates. Feral hogs are known to seriously harm crops, pastures, and natural habitats since they’re often bigger and more aggressive than farmed pigs.

The number of wild hogs in Oklahoma has increased dramatically in recent years, which has had a variety of detrimental effects on agriculture, the environment, and general public health. The fact that wild hogs are prolific breeders and can have litters of up to 10 piglets at once make matters worse. This means that their populations can expand swiftly and become challenging to manage.

The Growth of Wild Hog Populations

The introduction of the first pigs by early settlers to Oklahoma over 200 years ago began a long history of wild hogs in the state. These pigs eventually ran away from farms, created a home in the wild, and have since multiplied and spread.

The increase in wild hog numbers in Oklahoma is due to various factors. Increased suburbanization, which has given wild hogs access to new shelter and food supplies, is one of the main contributors to this trend. Wild hog populations have also been able to expand unchecked due to a lack of natural predators like wolves and coyotes. Finally, the growth of wild hog populations in Oklahoma has also been influenced by hunters and others who release caged pigs illegally into the wild.

Measuring Wild Hog Populations

Due to their frequent mobility and difficulty being tracked, estimating the wild hog population is difficult. Wildlife managers employ various techniques to determine the size of wild hog populations in Oklahoma. They include camera trapping, aerial surveys, ground surveys, and DNA analysis.

Surveys involve traveling to regions where wild hogs live and tallying the number of hogs seen. Aerial surveys are done from the air, while ground surveys are done on land. A more recent technique is camera trapping, which involves setting up cameras and calculating the population number from the photos obtained. Alternatively, to count the number of distinct hogs in a community, genetic approaches in DNA analysis are used, which involve gathering wild hog excrement.

Impacts of Wild Hogs

Wild hog numbers in Oklahoma have rapidly increased, which has had detrimental effects on the environment, agriculture, and general public health.

Wild hogs significantly harm natural areas ecologically, killing local plants and changing the terrain. Additionally, they disturb the equilibrium of nearby ecosystems by competing with indigenous creatures for food and resources.

Wild hogs pose a serious concern for farmers since they seriously harm fields and crops. They have a reputation for tearing up fields, wrecking irrigation systems and other machinery, and trampling or eating crops.

Regarding public health, wild hogs may harbor several ailments that endanger people and animals. They are also known to harbor parasites like ticks and other contagious parasites.

Finally, wild hogs may become hostile and dangerous to people if cornered or provoked.

Management and Control

Wildlife managers are trying to stop the spread of wild hog populations in Oklahoma because of the detrimental effects they have there. Wild hog populations are managed through a variety of techniques.

Two of the most popular strategies for reducing wild hog populations are trapping and hunting. Both approaches can be successful, but they need careful management and preparation to be effective.

To reduce the number of wild hogs, habitat alteration, and fencing are also employed, but the main goals are to restrict the hogs’ access to food and shelter. For instance, farmers can put up a fence to safeguard their fields and pastures, and wildlife managers might alter certain ecosystems to make them less appealing to wild hogs.

In a contentious technique known as “poison baiting,” wild hogs are killed by baiting them with poison. Despite its potential effectiveness, the use of poison is ethically controversial. It can also have detrimental effects on the environment and non-target animals.

Sterilization and other fertility control techniques are also being investigated as a more humane and sustainable approach to managing wild hog populations.

Although these techniques are still under development, they could one day prove to be an important tool in managing wild hog populations.

Addressing the Wild Hog Problem

Wild hogs are becoming a bigger problem in Oklahoma and throughout the country. To prevent these invasive pigs from further harming Oklahoma’s environment, agriculture, and public health, we must continue to monitor and control wild hog numbers in the state. Oklahoma residents are banning together to address their wild hog issue and safeguard the state for future generations.

Can You Hunt Wild Hogs in Oklahoma?

Hunting feral hogs is allowed under the appropriate conditions. Oklahoma doesn’t require hunters to have a license in the off-season. But they require an appropriate license during big game seasons. For example, you’ll require a feral hog tag for feral hog season. As a hunter, you don’t need to follow any regulations in the off-season. However, during hunting seasons, you must follow each season’s regulations. Night hunting is also allowed, but a permit is required.

Where Do Wild Hogs Live in Oklahoma?

Forests, meadows, and agricultural grounds are just a few of the diverse environments where wild hogs live in Oklahoma. They typically inhabit forested areas during the summer, but during the winter, they may relocate to agricultural lands in search of food. Although their distribution is currently most prevalent in the state’s southeast, it’s growing as they spread. Additionally, seasonal changes might affect wild hog distribution.

Background

Although wild hogs have been in Oklahoma for years, their numbers have recently skyrocketed. As a result, residents have expressed concerns regarding how these creatures are affecting the state’s ecosystems. In addition to competing with local wildlife species for nutrients and occasionally posing a hazard to human safety, wild hogs can seriously harm crops and other plants.

Identification of Habitats

In Oklahoma, wild hogs have been found to live in various habitats, including grasslands, forests, and even cities. The ideal habitats for them are those with soft soils, lots of vegetation, and little human interference. Geographic distribution maps reveal that wild hogs inhabit almost every portion of Oklahoma, with some areas, including the southeast and central parts of the state, having higher densities.

Factors Affecting Wild Hog Habitats

Numerous variables affect the quantity and distribution of wild hog habitats in Oklahoma. Various factors influence wild hog habitats, including land use, changes in climate, human disturbance, and interactions with other wildlife species. For instance, wild hogs may relocate as urban areas expand.

Management of Wild Hogs and their Habitats

Oklahoma has implemented various laws and policies to aid in managing wild hog numbers and their habitats. In addition, the state has developed methods for regulating wild hog habitats, including habitat manipulation and the spreading of repellents.

Oklahoma also deploys public education and outreach programs to increase understanding of the problems involving wild hogs and promote appropriate behavior when it comes to managing these populations.

Adaptations of Wild Hogs to Their Environment

Wild hogs are amazing creatures that have adapted to survive in diverse habitats. For the management and conservation of wild hog populations, as well as for the defense of ecosystems and agriculture, it is crucial to understand their adaptations.

Physical Adaptations

Wild hogs’ anatomy is one of their most significant adaptations. Because of the length and narrowness of their snouts, they can dig for food in the dirt. Additionally, they can hunt and protect themselves from predators using their tusks.

Wild hogs also have a hard, resilient hide that shields them from the environment and predators. In addition to being extremely mobile, wild hogs can run up to 30 mph. This enables them to find food and flee danger swiftly. They are also great swimmers and have swum across lakes and even rivers in search of food or to avoid predators.

Behavioral Adaptations

Wild hogs are highly sociable creatures that reside in groups known as sounders. These social organizations enable them to cooperate in food foraging and self-defense. Wild hogs are nocturnal creatures as well, which enables them to hide beneath the cover of darkness.

Ecological Adaptations

Wild hogs can flourish in various environments, such as grasslands, marshes, and woods. Due to their opportunistic feeding style, they will consume a wide range of plant and animal debris. Because of this, they can live in places where other creatures might not be able to survive. Additionally, wild hogs can swiftly establish sizable populations in new settings due to their extraordinarily prolific breeding habits.

Evolutionary Adaptations of Wild Hogs

Genetic diversity and natural selection have caused wild hog populations to vary throughout time. However, the most adaptable populations can endure and pass on their traits, allowing communities to continually grow more adapted to their surroundings.

Final Thoughts

Wild hogs are incredible creatures that can thrive in many habitats, which is why their populations are increasing rapidly. As a result, they have destroyed the state’s natural ecosystem and native plant and animal species and invaded farms. 

But humans can control and manage wild hog populations. Farmers, wildlife management, government organizations, hunters, and other stakeholders can come together to find ways of lessening the negative effects inflicted by wild hogs.

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About the Author

Alan is a freelance writer and an avid traveler. He specializes in travel content. When he visits home he enjoys spending time with his family Rottie, Opie.

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