Scientists Go Hog Wild to Control Pecan Pest
“The cockroach of the mammalian world,” quips Stephen Webb, Ag Systems Technology Manager at the Noble Research Institute, when talking about feral swine.
In the southern U.S., wild hogs are a major issue for farmers. They’re hard to control and eradicate. They also have a penchant for crops, such as pecans.
According to a report in The Oklahoma City Journal Record, the USDA estimates wild hogs caused $2.5 billion in damage and in Oklahoma alone, hogs have cost farmers $150 million.
Oklahoma is the fifth-largest pecan-producing state of about 14 million pounds worth $24 million.
Webb teamed up with Kelly Boyer, an Oklahoma State University graduate student, to study how feral hogs determine feeding grounds on pecan farms, track populations, and implement population control methods.
Webb and Boyer discovered sows prefer riverside environments with access to pecan orchards and stay close to their herd.
“We’re trying to find ways to be proactive and directly quantify the pecans these pigs are eating … which will likely suggest different management strategies,” Webb told The Journal Record.