A few years ago, the N.C. Feral Swine Task Force was formed to help address the growing issue of feral swine in the state. This effort was bolstered by $2.6 million in grant money from the most recent USDA Farm Bill. Grants include $620,000 for Sampson County North, $750,000 for Sampson County South and $1.25 million for the Five County Feral Swine Trap Grant. These grant programs will run through August 2023.
“We are excited about the development of real solutions to help our state’s feral swine problem,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Although these initial grants focus on six counties, the ultimate goal is the development of strategies that can be implemented statewide.”
Each year, feral swine cause about $1.5 billion in damages to agricultural crops, landscaping and historic sites nationwide. They also carry diseases that pose significant risk to livestock, humans and pets, and compete with our native wildlife for resources.
Because of our commercial hog industry, North Carolina is considered a level four state for feral swine threat. Feral swine and domestic swine are both the same species, which means they can be infected by the same diseases. Pasture-raised pigs, non-confined domestic swine and other outdoor swine practices can increase the risk of feral swine transmitting diseases. Also, since feral swine roam freely, they can contaminate accessible feed and water sources meant for domestic swine.
Sampson County was selected as a pilot county because of frequent feral swine sightings and crop damage. The county also includes numerous agricultural and livestock operations, including many of our large commercial swine operations.
Last month, the task force launched efforts to work with landowners to eradicate the growing feral swine problem during a meeting at the Sampson County Livestock Arena in Clinton. More than 80 landowners and others interested in the feral swine issues attended to hear an overview of the Sampson County Feral Swine Eradication and Control Project.
“The grant money funds traps and drones to help farmers and landowners find and remove feral swine from their property,” said Mike Mayes, program coordinator for NCDA&CS Veterinary Division. “A few years ago Commissioner Troxler told us he was getting calls from farmers about their problems with feral swine on their property. We were directed to find solutions and this is part of that solution. What we have will help augment what USDA is already doing in assisting farmers with feral swine on their property. This program is offered at no cost to the landowner and for it to be successful, we need landowner cooperation.”
Landowners can expect to work with feral swine management specialist to assess damages, place and maintain traps and remove feral swine from their property. Landowners can register for the Sampson County Feral Swine Project online at www.ncferalswine.org.
The website also allows anyone to report feral swine sightings or damage. These reports can be from any county and will help the task force better map sightings and damage that occur across the state.
The Feral Swine Task Force includes representatives from the NCDA&CS Veterinary and Soil and Water Conservation divisions, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, N.C. State Cooperative Extension, N.C. Division of Public Health and the USDA.