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The bottom tusks make formidable weapons. Boars use them for defense and to establish dominance during breeding.

Feral Hog trapping, control and removal

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Captured Feral Hogs
Captured Feral Hogs

Feral or “wild” hogs come in all shapes and sizes. The majority of feral hogs are mutts with genetic combinations that include Russian or Eurasian wild boar (razorbacks), an assortment of domestic varieties such as Yorkshire, Hampshire or Duroc, and even pot-bellied pigs.

The resulting offspring exhibit an astounding variety of shapes and colors including gray, red, black, blond, spotted and belted. Some look like domestic pigs, others resemble wild boars. All have small eyes, large, triangular ears and a long snout ending in a large, round nose.

Feral hogs have a thick coat of coarse, bristly fur, which they can erect along their spine, lending them the common name “razorback.” Most feral hogs have longer bristles than their domestic ancestors', but shorter hair than those of purebred Russian boars. Boars develop a thick, tough layer of cartilage (sometimes called a shield) over the shoulder.

Feral Hog Distribution Map


Feral Hog Tracks
Feral Hog Scat
Feral Hog Scat

Feral hogs can reach 3 feet in height, 5 feet in length and weigh over 400 pounds. However, most sows average 110 pounds and most boars average 130 pounds. Boars have four sharp tusks that grow continuously, often reaching 5 inches before they break or become worn from use. The bottom tusks make formidable weapons. Boars use them for defense and to establish dominance during breeding.

Sign Besides seeing a 300-pound boar wallowing in your feedlot or getting chased up a tree by a sow defending her piglets, you can find a number of signs that indicate the presence of feral hogs.

Feral hog damage from rooting. Rubs are usually found near wallows. The hogs revisit comfortable scratching trees or logs to rub off hair, mud and parasites. Feral hogs have been compared to rotary tillers with tails. In pursuit of their favorite foods—roots, acorns and earthworms—hogs root around, plowing the soil to depths of 2 to 8 inches. If several hogs are involved, these rooted areas can stretch over many acres. If you see a forested area that looks like it has been plowed, chances are feral hogs were the cause.

Because they lack sweat glands, hogs cool themselves by wallowing in the mud of seeps, springs, ponds and streams. Here they leave their tracks and the imprint of their coarse hair in the mud. After wallowing, they rub on nearby trees, leaving mud and hair on the bark. Both rooting and wallowing are incredibly destructive to native plant communities and landscaped areas, such as parks and golf courses.

Feral hogs in Missouri: An unwelcome guest
In Missouri, feral hogs may be taken in any number throughout the year. During most of the year, no permit is required and any method (including baiting and the use of dogs) is allowed. However, special restrictions apply during the fall firearms deer and turkey seasons.

Feral hog scat looks something like deer scat, but the pellets are larger and more variable in shape and content. Hog scat can contain acorns, grain and the hair, scales or feathers of whatever they have eaten. In some cases the scat resembles the shape and consistency of dog droppings.

Tracks of feral hogs are similar to those of deer, but with rounded toes. Hog tracks are wider than they are long and shorter than a deer track of the same width. Overall, hog tracks appear more rounded than deer tracks.

These domestic hogs gone wild degrade wildlife habitat and private property, compete with native wildlife for food, and can pose a threat to humans, pets and domestic livestock through the spread of disease.

Just like their domestic cousins, feral hogs spend a lot of time rooting and wallowing. This behavior contributes to soil erosion, reduces water quality and damages agricultural crops and hay fields. It also destroys sensitive natural areas such as glades, fens and springs.

Hogs have a keen sense of smell and are opportunistic feeders. They forage heavily on acorns, competing with native species such as deer and turkeys for this important fall food. They commonly eat the eggs of ground nesting-birds and have been reported to kill and eat fawns.

In some states, feral hogs are known to carry diseases such as swine brucellosis, pseudo-rabies, trichinosis and leptospirosis.

First, feral hogs reproduce nearly as prolifically as rabbits. Breeding occurs at any time of the year when abundant food is available. Females can begin breeding in their 6th month of life and produce two litters of 4-10 piglets every 12-15 months. This level of reproduction can double a feral hog population in 4 months.

Secondly, they are highly adaptable. Although they have appeared in nearly every kind of habitat in the state, feral hogs seem to prefer moist bottomland forests and riparian areas around creeks and streams where mud for wallowing and foods, such as acorns, are plentiful. The dense vegetation in these areas also shelters and hides feral hogs.

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