Feral Hogs: The Hero Our Nation Deserves

America is more divided today than perhaps at any point in its history since the Civil War. Congress recently voted to impeach and then acquit President Trump along near-perfect party lines. This follows last year’s budget impasse between Democrats and Republicans; i.e. the longest ever government shutdown[1]. Such partisanship has ground the overall legislative process to a virtual standstill [2] while cable news continues to carry the political firestorm into the home.

The country desperately needs an issue that can unite Americans of both parties.

Enter the feral hogs. 

It’s hard to overstate the magnitude of the hog problem. As many as six million wild swine (twice the human population of Utah) roam throughout 38 states, up from 17 states just three decades ago. The New York Times estimates that these pigs—notorious for killing livestock, razing fields of crops overnight, and demolishing rural infrastructure—–cause up to $2.5 billion worth of damages every year [3]. The hogs have even been known to go after people. Early one Sunday morning last November, 59-year-old Christine Rollins was leaving her car and making the short walk to the house where she worked as a caretaker when a swarm of feral hogs attacked her. Police later found Ms. Rollins dead at the scene, with the medical examiner declaring that she had suffered severe hemorrhaging from multiple bite wounds [4]. 

Environmentalists are also concerned about the devastating impact the hogs are having on local ecosystems. Experts say that mammal and bird populations are “26% less diverse in forests where the feral pigs are present,” mainly due to their capacity to eat “literally anything” [5]. They have specifically been known to consume nesting birds, frogs, salamanders, endangered sea turtles, and even white-tailed deer. 

Hog populations in the United States have exploded thanks to a confluence of man-made and natural factors. During the 1980s and ‘90s, Eurasian Boars were imported to North America to supplement livestock and many were later released into the wild “ to create hunting opportunities” [6]. While most hunters expected the more elusive hogs to quickly succumb to the elements, these pigs proved to be remarkably tenacious in surviving and thriving in their new environment. Hogs in states with harsh winters have grown thick fur coats and often build “pigloos” in banks of snow to keep warm. While the average weight of these animals is roughly 200 pounds, some wild pigs, such as Georgia’s legendary “hogzilla,” have grown to colossal proportions, weighing in at around 800 pounds

So what do monster hogs have to do with fixing America’s political polarization? 

Liberals and conservatives need a national issue to agree upon, one that affects the constituencies and policy agendas of both parties. What is more, they need an issue that won’t bore the American public. So even though the Senate recently passed a bipartisan resolution to restrain Trump’s war powers [9], and Congressional Democrats and Republicans alike have applauded Trump’s unwavering support for Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó [10],  nuanced foreign policy issues—though important—tend to fly under most Americans’ radar. 

Feral hogs, on the other hand, could capture the electorate’s attention. In 2011, Texas passed the so-called “pork chopper bill” which sanctioned licensed individuals and organizations to use automatic weapons to gun down feral hogs from helicopters. The subsequent explosion in businesses catering to this new niche in the market generated millions in tourism revenue and culled tens of thousands of feral pigs. Hunting hogs from helicopters with machine guns is sexy. Mandating that the president seek congressional approval more often? Not so much. 

A nation-wide hog hunting bill would also appeal to the platforms of both parties. Wiping out America’s most destructive invasive species could be critical to the conservation efforts of environmentalists. Meanwhile, gun rights advocates could use the bill to strengthen their argument that assault weapons can serve a constructive role in society. Win-win. So for the sake of restoring our nation’s bonds of brotherly affection, I say kill the feral hogs. Kill them all. 

  1. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/01/09/us/politics/longest-government-shutdown.html
  2. https://www.spglobal.com/marketintelligence/en/news-insights/latest-news-headlines/54664816 
  3. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/16/science/feral-pigs-canada-texas.html 
  4. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/26/us/texas-woman-killed-feral-hogs.html 
  5. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/16/science/feral-pigs-canada-texas.html 
  6. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/16/science/feral-pigs-canada-texas.html 
  7. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/feb/11/president-trump-finds-bipartisan-support-for-a-pro/ 
  8. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/13/us/politics/iran-war-powers-trump.html 
  9. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/13/us/politics/iran-war-powers-trump.html 

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/venezuela-opposition-leader-juan-guaido-to-attend-state-of-the-union

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Dan Harker

DAN HARKER is a senior from Orem, Utah, majoring in Middle East Studies/Arabic. Dan loves learning languages and traveling and has recently spent time exploring Jordan, Israel, Qatar, Mexico, and Morocco. When in Provo, he contributes to research on Islamist parties in the Arab World and American perceptions of elected officials. After graduating from BYU, he hopes to earn a doctorate in political science and pursue a career as a policymaker for national security. Dan’s guilty pleasures include binging Breaking Bad and New Girl as well as listening to Susan Rice’s autobiography while making chorizo burritos. Dan fervently believes that Chick-Fil-A is overpriced and really not all that great to begin with.

Dan Harker

DAN HARKER is a senior from Orem, Utah, majoring in Middle East Studies/Arabic. Dan loves learning languages and traveling and has recently spent time exploring Jordan, Israel, Qatar, Mexico, and Morocco. When in Provo, he contributes to research on Islamist parties in the Arab World and American perceptions of elected officials. After graduating from BYU, he hopes to earn a doctorate in political science and pursue a career as a policymaker for national security. Dan’s guilty pleasures include binging Breaking Bad and New Girl as well as listening to Susan Rice’s autobiography while making chorizo burritos. Dan fervently believes that Chick-Fil-A is overpriced and really not all that great to begin with.

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