The World's Worst Invasive Mammals
Animals as common as goats, deer, rabbits or mice can have a devastating effect on other wildlife
- By Jess Righthand
- Smithsonian.com, December 20, 2010
Wild boar (© Juniors Bildarchiv / Alamy)
Known as wild or feral hogs, pigs or boars, wild pigs (Sus scrofa) once roamed European and Asian hillsides. The purebred pigs have now gone extinct in much of their native range, but they have spread to other parts of the world including New Zealand, Australia, Latin America and North America. Pigs root as deep as three feet below the soil’s surface using long, sharp tusks. This tears apart surface vegetation and alters the nitrogen content of the soil. Hunters appreciate pigs’ cunning and aggression, but these same traits cause pigs to outcompete native species. They have even been known to terrorize visitors to national parks. And the pigs can carry foot-and-mouth disease and an array of other unsavory illnesses that can devastate domestic animal populations. The United States has experienced a dramatic increase in wild pigs in the past 30 years, especially in Texas, where damages are estimated to cost $400 million each year.