Pigs are invading the US. At least, that's what a new study says.
This is Poland but could soon be the US(Image: AP)
Researchers at the USDA's National Wildlife Research Center collected data on America's invasive wild pig population, and saw the porkers' already enormous range expanding. The models predict that if folks don't pass some precautionary measures, they could see wild pigs messing things up all across America soon -- like in the next few decades.
"Without immediate and enhanced efforts to curtail the spread of [invasive wild pigs], we predict that large portions of the USA are in immediate risk of invasion," write the study's authors. A pig invasion. A pigvasion. Inbacon?
Feral pigs, wild boar, whatever you want to call them, are the undomesticated version of the usual pink farm piggies. Some are escaped domestic pigs, others boars from Europe introduced here in the US for people to hunt. The piggies are dangerous since they don't have any particular food preferences and adapt to pretty much wherever, according to the paper published in the Journal of Applied Ecology on Monday. The US already spends an annual $US1.5 billion ($1.9 billion) controlling their spread and cleaning up the crops they damage. Aside from bears and possibly cougars, humans are their main predators, so it's up to us to keep the pigs in line.
The study monitored 3106 of the 3141 American counties during four time periods, from 1982-1988, 1988-2004, 2004-2009 and 2009-2012. Pigs showed up in 630, 1078, 1180 and 1358 of the counties respectively, mostly in southern and western parts of the US. Plus, the model correctly predicted 86 per cent of the counties invaded in 2012. The study didn't quantify the number of pigs per county, but the National Feral Swine Damage Management Program (NFSDMP) estimates between five and six million piggies live across at least 35 states. That's quite a lot of bacon.
Image: USDA National Feral Swine Mapping System
The pigs are most likely to expand into counties environmentally similar to those they already live in, wrote Gail Keirn, a public affairs specialist for the USDA National Wildlife Research Center. But not always -- they're also heading northwards, and climate change could be partially to blame. "We also observed that in recent years the spread has been associated with milder winters. It could be that milder winters have made it easier for animals released into unfamiliar areas to survive."
The study's model observes the pigs' range moving around 13km northwards each year, implying that almost every county in the continental United States will have a feral pig problem in the next 30 to 50 years -- that is, unless the spread is controlled by killing the pigs.
So please, stop releasing pigs into the wild. And as a reminder, wild boar tastes super good, better than pork in my opinion.