Seasonal Feral Pig Sounder Dynamics
By Aaron Sumrall, PhD
With their incessant feeding, wild pigs leave a path of destruction wherever they go. If you own a farm in pig country, understanding your enemy is the first step to defeating it. The Pig Brig team is here to help.
Sounders (groups of wild pigs) usually comprise a few adult sows and their young – numbering anywhere from a dozen individuals to two or three times that – feeding, bedding, and traveling in a tight group. Adult boars are more independent and will generally live on their own or in small bachelor groups, only joining the sounder to breed.
Typically, sounders stay confined to a zone of about five square miles. Telemetry studies in Texas have indicated that wild pigs can travel up to 19 miles in a clip, but that’s not the norm. If there are enough resources in an area to sustain the sounder and the competition isn’t too fierce, they will stay within their home range. But wild pigs can travel long distances, especially during times of the year when specific food stocks are plentiful.
During late summer months, as their natural food sources start drying up, pigs go on the prowl for any easy pickings left behind.
Though harvesting equipment can be amazingly efficient at reducing lost grain in the fields, there’s always some grain drop. And, wild pigs and other scavengers gravitate to harvested fields to feast on it. Sounders will cover significant ground to replenish decreased body condition in preparation for a potential summer breeding period. With lots of nutrition available, trapping and other management strategies will have decreased return until food is picked up in crop fields.
Wild pig management should be based on necessity. However, if you’re not managing your pig population, it’s growing. Harvest time is the exception, as hogs are difficult to get patterned to a single bait site and trapping is less efficient. During this wild pig management hiatus, managers and landowners should be preparing for when the pigs return to a routine; moving into fall and winter, the hogs will get hungry again. Formulating your winter trapping strategy will make all the difference in your success. Make sure you have the best equipment available and have a solid plan for trapping that incorporates the animals’ behavior and offers the greatest ROI.
As the harvest season wraps up and pigs resume traveling in search of new sources of nutrition, farmers with standing crops need to be vigilant and motorists on rural roads and highways from dusk until dawn must be aware. If you see a single wild pig on the road, STOP! Pigs typically do not travel alone, and when they cross roads, moving between bedding and feeding areas, they may be hidden in tall grass until they emerge onto the asphalt.
As you consider your hog management strategies, understanding the behavior of wild pigs can give you a serious leg up in the fight to control these destructive creatures. Here at Pig Brig, we’re always happy to help you develop a plan that works best for your property. Whether you’re a farmer wanting to protect your crops or a landowner looking to keep your ecosystem pristine and balanced, we’re here for you with round-the-clock expert support and, of course, the best feral hog trap around.
About the Author: Aaron Sumrall holds a Ph.D. in Wildlife Ecology from Texas A&M University. He runs a consultancy called Four Seasons Land and Wildlife LLC and has 20+ years of experience in wildlife and animal science management.