Boar–pig hybrid

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Iron Age pigs look like this male.

Boar–pig hybrids are the hybridized offspring of a cross between the Eurasian wild boar (Sus scrofa) and any domestic pig (Sus scrofa domesticus). Feral hybrids exist throughout Eurasia, the Americas, in Australia, and in other places where European settlers imported wild boars to use as game animals. In many areas, a variable mixture of these hybrids and feral pigs of all-domesticated original stock (even environmental, agricultural, hunting, and other regulatory agencies often do not bother to distinguishing between them) have become invasive species. Their status as pest animals has reached crisis proportions in Australia, parts of Brazil, and of the United States, and the animals are often freely hunted in hopes of eradicating them.

When bred intentionally, the hybrid is intended to visually re-create – to "back-breed" – the look of pigs represented in prehistoric artworks of the Iron Age and earlier in ancient Europe. A project to create them, under the name Iron Age pig, started in the early 1980s by crossing a male wild boar with a Tamworth sow to produce an animal that looks like the pig from long ago.[1] Iron Age pigs are generally only raised in Europe for the specialty meat market, and in keeping with their heritage are generally more aggressive and harder to handle than purebred domesticated pigs.[1]

British Iron Age figures of pigs or boars

In Australia[edit]

Feral pigs in general are considered to be the most important mammalian pest of Australian agriculture[2] (a difficult title to hold, given the country's long-running invasive rabbit problem). However, it is unclear to what extent they are hybrids. Known hybridisation between wild and domesticated pigs has occurred naturally in the country for a long time, with populations of the wild boar (imported by European settlers for hunting) freely interbreeding with domestic livestock pigs, either where the latter escaped and become feral, or where there is reasonable access between populations. The appearance and temperament of the wild boar is dominant, and after three generations of interbreeding, most domesticated characteristics disappear.[citation needed] Prior to closure of the meat export market, Australian hunters with the appropriate qualifications and certificates sold hybrid pig meat to be exported to specialty meat markets in Russia and Italy.[citation needed]

In North America[edit]

Suine hybrids, known as razorbacks, range throughout the United States and Canada as feral populations. Their genetic makeup varies widely from area to area, being all-domestic, to a mix of recent domestic with long-feral pigs that have partially reverted to wild traits, to an interbreeding of both with wild boars that, as in Australia, were apparently imported[3] for hunting during the colonial era, and in the southern United States were definitely re-introduced from Russia for hunting as recently as the 1990s.[4] Razorbacks have been hunted for sport for centuries. Because of their increasing numbers (at least 6 million in 2014[5], having approximately tripled since 1990)[4], in more recent decades, they have been hunted more programmatically, to reduce their impact as an invasive species; they have become a pest animal responsible for significant agricultural and property damage[5] and environmental harm, especially in the US Deep South from Florida[6] to Texas;[7] The Southwestern Naturalist estimated about 2.6 million free-roaming porcines in Texas in 2013,[8] which may cast doubt on the 6-million nationwide estimate. A 2014 Outdoor Alabama article termed them "wildlife enemy number one" in that state.[9] They have become problematic even in cooler, forested northern states (and into Canada); a particular conservation problem is that they strip plant life in woodland areas of their berries and other nutrients needed by the native American black bear.[10] Wisconsin, for example, imposes no hunting restrictions of any kind on them, to promote their elimination.[11] Only a few animals are large enough to prey on hybrid and feral pigs, and are too few in individual numbers to control their population.[12]

Free-ranging Eurasian pigs that have also been problematic in Hawaii, a US state in the Pacific Ocean and far from the mainland, are apparently of all-domesticated stock (simply feral pigs, not hybrids) and were brought by early European visitors.[13]

In Latin America[edit]

Domesticated pigs were introduced to the Americas and allowed to become feral, from the 16th century onwardm beginning with Christopher Columbus in the West Indies.[14] Actual wild boars were introduced in the early 20th century into Uruguay, again for hunting, and have since spread into Brazil, where they have been deemed an invasive species since at least 1994,[15] especially in Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, and São Paulo. Since 2005,[16] Brazil has issued hunting licenses for hybrid and feral pigs, and expanded this hunting program in 2008.[17]

Unrelated, smaller, and entirely wild suids, known as peccaries and javelinas, range throughout Latin America into the US Southwest, are native to western hemisphere, and are not pest animals, though they compete with resources with hybrid and feral pigs, and their dynamics are not yet well studied. Jaguars appear to prefer boar/pig over peccary prey, when available.[18]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b McDonald-Brown, Linda (2009). Choosing and Keeping Pigs. Firefly Books. ISBN 978-1-55407-469-3.
  2. ^ Statham, M.; Middleton, M. (1987). "Feral pigs on Flinders Island". Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania. 121: 121–124.
  3. ^ Scheggi, Massimo (1999). La Bestia Nera: Caccia al Cinghiale fra Mito, Storia e Attualità (in Italian). p. 201. ISBN 88-253-7904-8.
  4. ^ a b Goode, Erica (27 April 2013). "When One Man's Game Is Also a Marauding Pest". New York Times. Retrieved 6 September 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Feral pigs: Pork, chopped". The Economist. 4 May 2013. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
  6. ^ Giuliano, William M. (5 February 2013). "Wild Hogs in Florida: Ecology and Management". Electronic Data Information Source. Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  7. ^ Taylor, Richard B.; Hellgren, Eric C. (1997). "Diet of Feral Hogs in the Western South Texas Plains". The Southwestern Naturalist. 42 (1): 33–39. JSTOR 30054058.
  8. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions-Wild Pigs: Coping with Feral Hogs". FeralHogs.TAMU.edu. Texas A&M University. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
  9. ^ "Feral Hogs - Wildlife Enemy Number One". Outdoor Alabama. Archived from the original on 6 February 2014. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
  10. ^ "Black Bears – Great Smoky Mountains National Park". US National Park Service. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
  11. ^ "Feral Pig Control". DNR.Wi.gov. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
  12. ^ "Natural Predators of Feral Hogs". eXtension. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  13. ^ Downes, Lawrence (19 May 2013). "In pursuit of Hawaii's wild feral pigs". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
  14. ^ "History and Distribution of Feral Hogs in Texas". AgriLife.org. Archived from the original on 13 April 2016. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  15. ^ "Javali: Fronteiras rompidas" [Boars break across the border]. Globo Rural. January 1994. pp. 32–35. ISSN 0102-6178.
  16. ^ Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Maturais Nenováveis (4 August 2005). "Instrução Normativa No. 71" (PDF). Federal Ministério do Meio Ambiente (Brazil). Retrieved 13 February 2009.
  17. ^ Cecconi, Eduardo (13 February 2009). "A técnica da caça do javali: Reprodução desordenada do animal é combatida com o abate". Terra de Mauá. Archived from the original on 19 November 2008.
  18. ^ Furtado, Fred (13 February 2009). "Invasor ou vizinho? Invasor ou vizinho? Estudo traz nova visão sobre interação entre porco-monteiro e seus 'primos' do Pantanal". Ciencia Hoje. Archived from the original on 6 September 2008.