‘They can be very damaging’: Hogs gone wild in North Dakota

Local News

Wild boars. Feral pigs. Wild hogs. All different names for the same beast.

A beast that is destructive and, at least in some southern states, out of control. They kill and eat almost anything in sight, destroy habitat for wildlife and destroy wildlife as well.

Wild boars multiply fast and adapt quickly — the more they’re hunted, the smarter they get. You might be surprised to learn there are feral pigs in North Dakota.

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department responds to a few calls a year to deal with the animals.

They, along with the Board of Animal Health and the Fish and Wildlife Service, are always working to raise public awareness so North Dakota doesn’t end up like Texas with a growing, out-of-control feral pig population.

“I believe in 2006, in the western part of the state, 18 to 20 feral pigs in the badlands, and that was kind of North Dakota’s first dealing with that situation,” explained Jeb Williams, of the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. “They can be very damaging to agricultural crops, damaging to wildlife habitat, damaging to natural wildlife in North Dakota.”

Williams says every wild hog is an escaped farm pig — and no longer resemble your typical pink critter. They change to survive in the wild.

“They adapt very quickly to that environment, biologically, physically and then their behaviors as well, which makes them a pretty tough opponent,” Williams noted.

They become almost impossible for the average person to hunt — they’re smart and extremely tough. When they escape or survive shooting attempts, they run, go nocturnal, adapt to avoid hunters and “tell” other ferals to watch out.

This is one of the reasons Game and Fish doesn’t want hunters to shoot at them.

“A lot of the knowledge and education we have comes from other states, who have become very clear in their statements: ‘You’re lucky, don’t ever let this become a problem in your state if you have that ability,'” said Williams.

Williams attributes the recreational hunting of feral pigs in the southern states to part of the problem.

If there are enough pigs to hunt — there are already too many — and the problem is out of control.

And while North Dakotans are admonished never to shoot at a wild boar, there is one exception: self-defense.

About 14 years ago near Stanley, a wild hog charged a nearby railroad worker. Tim Defoe shot at the pig.

Tuesday on KX News, we’ll hear his story — one that has a bit of mystery attached.

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