Report from the Field, author Isabelle Trocheris

With the recent explosion of its population, the feral swine is probably the worst of the invasive species in the United States, says Janean Romines, a wildlife biologist at the USDA-APHIS.

With their numbers estimated at more than 5 million, the wild pigs are now found in 41 states, though not in Maryland. Through their behavior and feeding habits, they cause more than $ 1.5 billion in damage to the environment and agriculture each year in the United States. Descendants of Eurasian pigs first introduced by the Spanish in the 1500s, they carry diseases that can be transmitted to domestic animals and sometimes humans.

The USDA-APHIS developed a management plan based on eradication or population reduction depending on the location. Although wild boar meat is enjoyed by some, hunting is not very effective as it disperses the animals, explains Romines. Trapping is recommended instead.

The next Rockville Science Café will be at Branded ’72 on Tuesday, March 15, 2016.