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How Invasive Boars are Actually Helping Biodiversity in Brazil

How Invasive Boars are Actually Helping Biodiversity in Brazil

You can’t always judge a book by its cover. Or, in the case of the Pantanal wetlands region of South America, a pig by its invasive status.

The Pantanal can be found at the center of the South American continent, south of the Amazon basin and east of the Andes. An immense landlocked river delta where floodwaters regularly rise several meters and then recede every year, the Pantanal is considered to be one of the largest freshwater wetlands on the planet. If you were to visit the Pantanal today, you’d encounter an abundance of unique and diverse plant and animal life. You’d also find lots of feral pigs.

In recent years, feral pigs have made headlines around the world. In most cases, these wild swine are considered an invasive species. The pigs’ constant rooting and eating stamps out native plant life and drive off small animal species who find themselves unable to compete with their voracious appetites.

Since 1989, the number of wild boars in and around Berlin has risen from 3,000 to between 8,000 and 10,000. The boars dig up gardens, parks and cemeteries, causing thousands of euros worth of damage. Statistics show that in the last year the boars have been responsible for 15 percent of Berlin’s car accidents. When they are cornered they will charge and charge hard and fast – up to 31 mph, heads down, tusks forward.

There are more than five million wild pigs in the United States. They have made Texas their own and are working towards dominance in other states as well, trampling crops, gardens and wildlife.

In San Diego County, an ever-growing population of wild pigs is taking its toll on native plants and animals. “Biologists are concerned that the wild pigs are unfair competition for the native deer population,” wrote Care2′s Miranda Perry. “They are also worried for the county’s ground-nesting birds. But the pigs may pose an even greater danger to plant life…the pigs are eating new-growth trees.”

Interestingly, introducing the pigs to the Pantanal had almost the opposite effect. “The introduction of feral pigs (about 200 years ago) relieved a significant amount of hunting pressure on native species, allowing populations a chance to rebound [after bans on hunting and trapping other species were put into place]. Pantanal denizens prefer to hunt pigs as opposed to native wildlife because they are abundant, easily accessible, and provide a substantial amount of meat and oil. Pig hunting has become an important part of Pantanal culture,” writes Erica Santana for Mongabay.com.

Hunting the pigs has been met with mixed emotions in Europe and the United States. Since its been quite a while since most Americans could be considered “subsistence hunters” it’s not so easy to simply suggest that we utilize one form of meat over another. Additionally, feral pigs are quite intelligent, making them difficult targets. In fact, in Louisiana, pig control efforts have resorted to unmanned aerial drones in an effort to cull hog populations while keeping hunters safe.

 

Related Reading:

Texas Approves Aerial Hunting Of Pigs And Coyotes

New Company Sells Invasive Carp Back To Asia As Food

Brace Yourself For The Kudzu Bug Invasion

 

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Image via Thinkstock

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55 comments

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8:09AM PDT on Jun 19, 2013

thanks for sharing

6:10PM PDT on May 11, 2013

"in Louisiana, pig control efforts have resorted to unmanned aerial drones in an effort to cull hog populations while keeping hunters safe"

Why would you want to keep hunters "safe"? Since when did hunters keep their animal victims safe? Hunters are a feral invasion of rednecks. I would vote to to use umanned aerial drones on them anyday.

6:05PM PDT on May 11, 2013

There's seven billion feral human invaders ripping up the earth..how about the humane option and sterilizing them.

12:46AM PDT on May 11, 2013

Hard to believe so many people hear is pro hunting. Go vegan! It's urgent to change our eating habits.

4:49AM PDT on May 10, 2013

I am mostly vegetarian but realise many eat meat so better to eat the damaging invasive wild boar than cruelly reared cattle, sheep, chickens & pigs??

10:48PM PDT on May 9, 2013

i support subsistence hunting (hunting to feed your family) and if the feral pig population is giving endangered species a chance then that's great news.

the problems experienced with feral pigs worldwide seems to be that no one is subsistence hunting them.

10:41PM PDT on May 9, 2013

Not sure what is causing pig invasions.

9:44PM PDT on May 9, 2013

ty

9:21PM PDT on May 9, 2013

Thank you.

7:52PM PDT on May 9, 2013

ty

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