Experts: Wild hog numbers increasing steadily in Horry County

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Wild hogs are a problem that South Carolina has been dealing with for many centuries now, but the wild animals are beginning to move out of some woods and into neighborhoods.

"Being that they're highly adaptable, wild hogs have been able to live in the woods even though they're not a native animal. And their numbers are increasing steadily," Natural Resource Agent for Clemson Extension Services Ben Powell said.

And now those hogs are starting to pop up in some local neighborhoods.

"We've gotten to the point now where we've got conflicts between farmers and forest lands and residents and wild hogs that are using these lands too," Powell explained.

Keith Jester lives in the Colonial Charters Community in Little River. Jester says in the past six weeks, wild hogs have been spotted in the neighborhood. Jester said he is concerned the hogs are moving out of the woods and closer to the homes.

"Where we tend to see the population's isolated in the Little Pee Dee River, the Big Pee Dee River and the Waccamaw River," Powell said.

Powell said hogs have the potential to cause damage to a wide variety of things.

"They're an opportunist feeder, they can eat just about anything that has a calorie in it. They're a threat to agricultural crop crops, they're a threat to forestry and replanting of trees. They're a threat to native animals, ground nesting birds, sea turtles. They eat seeds and berries and affect the propagation of our native plants. They uproot searching for grubs and just about anything that's alive out there could potentially be a food for the hogs," Powell said.

Powell said he's started to see more conflicts between humans and hogs.

"Especially in residential areas. This is partially due to residential areas expanding into their areas as well as the hog population is expanding," Powell said.

Powell said there are a couple concerns.

"Hogs, unlike most native animals, are aggressive and will stand their ground if confronted. So they can be a direct physical threat. If somebody is just walking through the woods and they come across a drove of hogs, that group may not run away," Powell said.

Powell said the rapid rate hogs can multiply is another likely reason they're popping up often.

"We're talking about an animal that can reproduce within six months of his life, of being born. And those kids become sexually active within six months so basically if you have two kids today- this time next year we'll have thirty animals and the following year we'll have 300 from those two animals," Powell said.

Two weeks ago, Powell spoke to members of Horry County's Public Safety Committee in an effort to educate members on the increasing issue of hogs in the county. The county said as of this time, it doesn't have any plans to move forward with aiding in the effort of controlling the hog population.

"Basically what came of the meeting is it's still an educational program. What the county expects is it's a local private property owner's issue so if a residential community or a farmer or a forest land owner, it's largely up to them to deal with the problem. The county is not going to get involved in management at this point," Powell said.

Powell said first and foremost, people affected by wild hogs or people who see the animal should call the Department of Natural Resources. But, Powell explained there are ways people can help manage the hog population on their own.

"There's a number of different tactics we profess what we call integrative pest management where we use a number of tactics in a coordinated way to deal with the pest problem. These are hunting. Now, on private lands, hogs can be hunted anytime of year during the day doing it with just about any kind of weaponry. There are some limitations, but the state did open up a season for night hunting from March through June where we can use rifles and other weapons. That's on private lands. On public lands, there are designated seasons for hunting. There are other strategies as well such as trapping and exclusion and exclusion fencing around the perimeter of the neighborhood," Powell said.

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