Farmers in 18 Alabama counties have until Feb. 19 to apply for financial assistance to monitor and manage feral swine on their property.
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service State Conservationist Ben Malone said $100,000 is being made available for Alabama’s Wild Pig Damage Management Program under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
Feral swine reproduce at an alarming rate. Sows can begin breeding at six months of age and produce up to four litters per year, with each litter consisting of four to 12 pigs. Wild hogs damage crops and native plants that provide habitat and food sources for other wildlife species. In addition, they degrade water quality and pose a serious disease threat to livestock and humans, according to NRCS.
“Although we have a somewhat fair guess of the damage that wild pigs cause to agriculture, about $1.5 billion per year, I suspect their impact to natural ecosystems and the environment likely double or triple that figure,” said Dr. Mark Smith, Extension specialist and associate professor in the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences at Auburn University.
Rick Oates of the Alabama Farmers Federation welcomed the announcement.
“Any assistance in controlling wild hogs is appreciated,” said Oates, who heads the Federation’s Forestry and Wildlife divisions. “Damage from feral swine is a major problem for farmers and forest owners across the state. We hope this pilot program will lead to additional help for property owners plagued by wild pigs.”
Farmers in the following counties may apply for assistance: Autauga, Baldwin, Cherokee, Coffee, Colbert, Dale, Dallas, Elmore, Etowah, Fayette, Geneva, Henry, Lamar, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Macon and Mobile.
Landowners in eligible counties who are interested in the Wild Pig Damage Management Program should contact their local NRCS or Farm Service Agency office to begin the application process.
Oates said the Federation recently hired an intern to work with members on wild hog issues. William Green, who also coordinates projects for the Alabama TREASURE Forest Association, joined the Federation staff on Jan. 11. He earned a bachelor’s degree in wildlife sciences from Auburn University. Members who wish to discuss challenges with feral swine control may contact Green at firstname.lastname@example.org or 334-612-5235.