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The Profile: Sus scrofa, commonly known as feral hogs, have been present in North America region since the arrival of the earliest settlers In the sixteenth century (Ditchkott and West 2007). Colonist’s originally released feral hogs because of the high adaptability of this species to their surrounding habitat and ability to survive thus being a ready food supply for settlers. Due to their high adaptability to new habitat, this solution pecies for the survival of settlers has now become a problematic species within the ecosystem toddy.
Feral hogs currently occur In 40 of the 50 states, can strongly influence ecosystem processes, and often directly or indirectly affect native flora and fauna, as well as crops and soll (Mayer and 3rlsbln 1991, Dltchkott and west 2007, Kaller et al. 2007, Hartin et al. 2007). Due to the strong and often negative effects feral hogs have on natural systems, as well as economically valued commodities, managers are often tasked with developing and Implementing control programs for this species Engeman et 2007, Rollings et al.
Basic Biology: Feral hogs are omnivores with an opportunistic diet, including high fiber ‘low-protein grasses, legumes, herbs, and roots. They readily feed on crops, fallen fruits, fungus, nuts, seeds, grubs and small animals. Having this ability to adapt and receive high levels of nutrients from many foods In a variety of habitats, they are able to obtain the nutrients it takes to carry and nurse young. A diet of this kind has a potential for a high reproductive rate. sows are reproductive at approximately 6-9 months of age, depending on favorable conditions.
They have the highest potential reproductive rate ot any ungulate, potentially breeding all year round with two litters per temale (Barrett 1978). The number of piglets per litter can vary greatly, ranging from 3-18(book)_ Mating season is a very fierce time in the male hog’s life history, as males often compete/flght for mating opportunities with females. The tusks of the male hogs are used as weapons most frequently during mating season and therefore Individual males develop thick tissue around the front of the belly to help protect them from the competing males’ tusks while fighting.
After two males fight the winning male hog mates with the SChV. The most aggressive males have been known to secure as many as eight sows during a single mating season(). As parturition approaches, sows create farrowing nests in which to give birth and nurse piglets. Piglets remain In farrowing nests for approximately 2-3 weeks so they can be guarded by the sows in their sounder (group of hogs), and are weaned at approximately 3-4 months ot age (Noguelra et al. 2007).
The avallablllty of agricultural crops is known to increase the reproductive success of sows and Is onsidered one of the primary rationales for Increasing densities of boar In Europe 1 Of3 factors such as photoperiodism, female physical condition, food availability density of the population, and the role of the female group are commonly identified being key in the reproductive biology of the wild boar (Delcroix et al. 1990). The predation rate of this animal is very little, excluding humans hunting them. This is due to the aggressive behavior of this species.
New Mexico’s Wildlife Service states that these animals have a wary, aggressive behavior and these particular behaviors of the sows llow for them to defend their offspring very effectively(). Additionally predation rates are also very low because sounders practice group defensiveness, which decreases predation. Habitat Use Information: Feral hogs are found in a wide variety of habitats, as a result of domestication and their adaptability to new areas, therefore the idea habitat is generally moist forests and shrub lands, especially oak forests and areas where reeds are abundant().
The presence of a good litter layer to support soil invertebrates and/or the presence of round vegetation affording green forage, roots, and tubers is desirable(). However since these animals have a great adaptability and can partition resources better than other species to out compete them they can be found in any habitat. Most habitats that feral hogs inhabit have a food source such as crops, fallen fruits, fungus, nuts, seeds, grubs, protein grasses, legumes, herbs, or roots. Cover is necessary for this species so that sounders can protect the piglets from predation.
Lastly, water is needed the most. During hot summer months, “wallows,” or depressions are dug in he mud by feral hogs, in order to keep themselves from overheating. Management Techniques: Range expansion and population increase of feral hogs in the United States has generated much concern among natural resource managers (Chavarria et al. 2007, Engeman et al. 2007). Feral hogs, as stated earlier, have a huge impact negatively on natural systems, as well as economically valued commodities.
They are also a major concern as being disease vectors, destruction of agricultural crops, and predation of livestock therefore managers are often tasked with developing and implementing ontrol programs for this species. Feral hogs pose many threats on the species within the ecosystem. Many native species thrive and need native plants to survive. A prime example of how feral hogs can negatively effect the ecosystem would be a method of foraging they use called rooting.
This method of foraging can lead to impaired water quality, increased prevalence of exotic plants, and injury to native plant species (Cushman et al. 2004, Kaller and Kelso 2006,Kaller et al. 2007). It has been suggested that, due to their high rates of consumption of reptiles and mphibians, feral hogs pose a considerable threat to some federally-listed species also Colley 2007). Overall, feral hogs have a greater adaptability then most species and therefore can out compete most native species.
This can be detrimental to native species such as deer and turkey. Not only are feral fogs negatively impacting the biodiversity of species within the ecosystems but they are effecting humans example, considerable amounts of resources have been spent in eradication from domestic animals of diseases such as pseudo rabies, which is prevalent in feral hogs Corn et al. 2004). Another negative impact, as stated previously, they can out compete most deer and turkey in foraging. This can effect most states economically.
For example, in Missouri, $1 billion of annual input is put forth toward deer hunting. With that we can then conclude that if feral hogs are out competing deer then the deer population will decline meaning the annual input will decline also. Since Sus Scrofa is so detrimental economically and to the native species within ecosystems, many management plans where these animals preside have been developed. The ost common management strategies for invasive species like the feral hog is eradication.
In the United States, the most common methods of feral hog eradication includes box trapping, corral trapping, ground hunting, ariel operations, snaring, hunting with dogs, and placing hunting season year round ( Book). All methods are effective but the effectiveness varies with the landscape, objective of the manager, local regulations, and funding. Conclusion: In conclusion, Sus Scrofa has greatly impacted humans and individuals within ecosystems since the sixteenth century.
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