Local farmers say wild hogs can cause millions in damages every year

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BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – Wild, or “feral” hogs, have been an issue for South Carolina farmers – the animals can eat or destroy thousands of dollars in crops literally overnight. Legislators are working on a bill that is designed to help deal with the growing problem.

Farmers say the feral hogs can cost about $100 million in damages every year.

“Looks like the more you catch, the more they come,” said Jamestown Farmer, Willie Matthews.

Farmers like Matthews say it’s difficult to make money in the farming industry in the first place. But feral holds make it all the harder.

“A group of hogs can come into a big field, and in one night, they can absolutely destroy everything in that field,” said Commissioner Barry Jurs with Berkeley Soil and Water Conservation District.

“I’ve had someone come to me and say, ‘you know, we’ve got a terrible problem with feral hogs. I’m a small farmer and I’ve gotten to the point where I’m not gonna plant my fields because the hogs just come in and tear it up,’” said Rep. Sylleste Davis of Berkeley County.

Rep. Davis has introduced a bill in Columbia that would require having identification when transporting hogs to prove they are domestic.

“Learning more about feral hogs, I found that is a $115,000,000 issue. Our farmers are seeing a hundred fifteen million dollars annually in damages,” Rep. Davis said.

Wild hogs can also break into domestic pig pens and impregnate domestic hogs. This can spread disease and creates offspring that cannot be sold at market.

“They are all supposed to be one color,” said Matthews, as he showed us a group of piglets that are not solid white. He said that is the result of wild boar impregnating his domestic pig.

“See them striped on him? That shows he’s a wild pig. Comes from a wild boar – look at the head on him,” he said.

Feral hog hunts can be big business. That is why some people are illegally transporting them to different locations.

“Move in a feral hog from one spot to another; just infest another area in very short order. You have an overgrown hog problem there,” he said.

Davis says her bill should be able to make it out of the House perhaps in the next few weeks. It will then go to the Senate. There is no timeline as to when it may pass there.

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