CHEYENNE, Wyo. — When Wyoming lawmakers first passed rules governing feral livestock two years ago, they did so in part out of fear that the state would soon face an oinking, four-legged menace: feral swine.
But so far, state livestock officials said, the fear that wild hogs would cross over the state line from Nebraska along the North Platte River hasn’t come to pass.
Feral swine have become an increasing problem in the United States during the past couple of decades, especially as domesticated pigs escape or are turned loose into the wild.
Prolific breeders, they’ve caused millions of dollars’ worth of crop destruction, attacking farm animals and native wildlife and spreading diseases such as brucellosis and pseudo-rabies.
Wild hogs have established populations in 37 states, mainly in the Southeast and Midwest, said Joseph Corn, a University of Georgia veterinary sciences professor who runs the National Feral Swine Mapping System.
Wyoming is not one of those states, Corn said. But Nebraska is, and Wyoming State Veterinarian Jim Logan said wild pigs have been reported as close as 20 miles from the Nebraska-Wyoming border.
“It’s a huge concern,” Logan said.
The chances of a wild-pig invasion from Nebraska are slim these days, thanks to a six-year program by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission to squelch the animals through trapping and even shooting them from helicopters, said Sam Wilson, nongame mammal and fur-bearing program manager with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
“Your state shouldn’t be worried about feral swine, in my opinion,” Wilson said. “At least, not from Nebraska.”
Wilson offered kudos to Wyoming for acting pre-emptively by passing a 2009 law giving state officials the authority to take action against any feral swine in the state.
Of course, any population of wild pigs could be culled by individual hunting, as well. But several Wyoming hunters said the environmental costs of a wild-hog population would far outweigh the pleasure of nabbing several hundred pounds’ worth of pork chops and bacon.
“Would they be fun to hunt? Yes, I would love to hunt for a hog,” said Casper hunter Daren Bulow. “But would I want them in Wyoming? No.”