Wild Pigs Put Pecan Production At Risk, Shows Joint Noble-Oklahoma State Study

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Source: Noble Research Institute news release

Not that agricultural producers need any more problems, but there is a major one that can affect all types of agricultural operations. It has four legs, bad habits, is very intelligent and goes by the common name of – the wild pig.

Agricultural products such as grains, fruits and nut crops often offer an easily accessible food source for wild pigs, which reduces total production amounts. Pecans are a specialty crop readily grown across the southern United States, which is also where some of the highest densities of wild pigs occur.

“This overlap of wild pigs and pecans likely leads to pecan consumption by wild pigs because the nuts offer a high caloric, abundant food source at a time of year when food is limiting,” said Stephen Webb, Ph.D., Noble Research Institute ag systems technology manager. “For these reasons, Noble and Oklahoma State University initiated a study to investigate wild pig habitat use, ecology and damage within agricultural landscapes where pecans are actively grown and harvested.”

The research study area was located on the northern edge of the Red River on the Noble Research Institute’s Red River Farm in Love County, Oklahoma. BoarBuster suspended traps were used to capture two adult female wild pigs (sows) per sounder (group of pigs). The sows were fitted with GPS tracking collars, which allowed two-way communication for data collection.

Study findings:

• During pre-harvest of pecan trees, sows stayed in or near the pecan orchards looking for food. Once harvest was done, they moved closer to the Red River.

• The average home range size (September to January) was 659 acres, which is about 500 football fields.

• During pecan harvest time in 2016 (October to December), the sows’ average home range size reduced to 564 acres. During the same time frame in 2017, the range size decreased to 350 acres (about 265 football fields).

• The habitats associated with the Red River, the southern border of the study area, offer ideal habitat and security cover for wild pigs. It acts as a corridor where pigs move up and down the river, allowing other pigs (not collared) to funnel through and use the study area.

“Despite what we learned about wild pigs, which we can use to our advantage, there are still many factors that make population control difficult,” Webb said. “There is always something new to learn about these creatures, so we are continuing our efforts into wild pig control and research.”

For the full story on this research, check out the Noble News and Views article. To read more about wild pigs, please visit www.noble.org/news/feral-hogs.

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