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Feral hogs do significant damage in South Carolina, study says

A hog can produce more than 12 piglets a year, one reason they multiply so rapidly in the wild. Feral hogs are a problem in many parts of the United States, especially in the South.
A hog can produce more than 12 piglets a year, one reason they multiply so rapidly in the wild. Feral hogs are a problem in many parts of the United States, especially in the South. Provided photo

Research shows that feral hogs are doing millions of dollars in damage in South Carolina.

A Clemson University report has found that the hogs do about $115 million in damage each year, according to The Post and Courier newspaper.

The report says the animals root up lawns and other plantings and drive off game while creating problems for the agriculture, livestock and timber industries.

Report author and Clemson professor Shari Rodriguez says the hogs eat just about anything.

“They are ecological zombies. They eat everything. They eat deer fawn. They uproot endangered salamanders. They eat ground-nesting birds and their eggs,” said Rodriguez, who studies environmental conservation.

There have been wild hogs since colonial times in South Carolina. But the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources says their population appears to have been boosted by people who illegally moved hogs around for hunting purposes.

Charles Ruth, a biologist at the state agency, said the wild hogs are found in all 46 of the state’s counties. Estimates place their population at more than 130,000 animals.

State law offers leeway on shooting or trapping the animals, but it’s difficult to dent the population numbers because the pigs are prolific breeders.

There are many of them in the Santee and Cooper river basins. They can ravage corn crops and spread disease to other species. When the water rises, they come into subdivisions.

“When there are so many pigs that they are getting swept out of rivers and coming up on barrier islands, we have too many,” said Jeff Jackson, a landscaper and consultant who’s a member of the S.C. Native Plant Society.

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