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BY FALYN HEMPEL, TEXAS, AGE 11 hat is a feral hog? Have you ever seen one? Let me tell you what I know. Feral hogs are descendants of domestic hogs. I call them “wild hogs.” The explorer Hernando De Soto brought domestic hogs to Florida in 1539. The explorers used them for food. Some of these domestic hogs were released or escaped and over time they changed and developed to survive in the wild. Wild hogs make it a habit to sleep and eat in the same area unless they are repeatedly disturbed. They are one of the smartest species in the United States. Hogs communicate by A constant battle against destructive wild hogs squealing to tell others there is danger. They can run up to thirty mph and jump almost three feet high. When a hog gets hot, they roll in the mud to cool off. A wild hog can live to be four to eight years old. Most females, called sows, weigh about 175 pounds and males, or boars, about 200 pounds. I have seen several that weigh as much as 300 pounds. Wild hogs use their sense of smell to detect danger and locate food. They can smell stuff from fi ve to seven miles away and maybe even as far as 25 feet underground! Omnivores eat plants and animals. Wild hogs are omnivores but these hogs are also scavengers. Hogs can LEANNE HEMPEL eat three to fi ve percent of their body weight every single day. Their jaws are strong enough to crush bones and eat a whole animal carcass! Most of their diet is vegetation that might be crops or pasture land. This is a problem for farmers and ranchers, due to the amount the hogs can destroy while grazing. Wild hog sows can breed when they are about 13 months old but many can begin at an earlier age. Sows have one or two litters per year, with an average of six pigs per litter. At this rate, a small area can be overpopulated very quickly and can be very This is some of the pasture damage that was done by wild hogs. 22 I WORKING RANCH JUNIOR I SUMMER 2016


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