Broadband service continues to expand in Robeson County
LUMBERTON – The U.S. Department of Agriculture wants information about the damage wild boars are doing to livestock, while Robeson County’s farmers just want it under control.
The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service is conducting a survey of damage from wild boar. At least one local farmer can tell you a lot about the damage the boars are doing to the farms he has scattered in southern Robeson County.
“I have a problem with the wild boars. It’s a bigger problem than most people think, ”said Dan Lewis, an Orrum resident who has grown grain in Robeson County for 44 years.
Lewis planted some pine trees about two years ago. They had grown up to 2 feet tall when pigs rooted some of them to get at the tiny nuts on the nut grass that grew around the trees, he said.
He also had whole rows of corn exterminated from wild boar trying to get at the grain.
“You can hardly see them during the day,” said Lewis. “But you can work on the farm during the day and come out the next day and see the damage.”
Lewis isn’t sure what can be done to control them or whether it is legal to hunt them down.
“I hope they will have an open season,” said Lewis.
As it turns out, it is legal to hunt wild pigs all year round, day and night, according to an NC Wildlife Law Enforcement Officer in Robeson County.
“They are considered a nuisance, like coyotes,” said Miles Sampson.
According to Sampson, coyotes can also be hunted day and night all year round.
But he did not identify wild boars as a national problem, the official said.
“I know they are here and there,” he said. “They’re usually here and there in Robeson County.”
Wild boars were not a problem at Lumber River State Park, Superintendent Lane Garner said.
“We see some signs from time to time,” he said.
He has heard the animals are a problem in other parks where they eat large areas of native vegetation, Garner said.
But since he moved to Lumber River State Park, the boars haven’t been a problem, said the superintendent, who took over the post on March 1, 2018. But the park covers 15,000 acres and it can be difficult to keep a close watch over each morning.
“I’m sure if we searched the entire 15,000 acres we would see problems with them,” said Garner.
A farmer who has farms in the Parkton and St. Pauls areas has a history similar to that of Garner.
“We saw no evidence that they moved to our northern county community,” said Lance Herndon, who has been farming for more than 20 years.
But that doesn’t mean he isn’t worried.
“Farmers definitely talked about it because it can be very destructive,” he said.
He has heard that wild boars are present in Hoke County and that they have been sighted in Scotland County.
“You are terribly destructive. They put their muzzle down and rip everything, ”said Herndon.
This destructive nature can cost farmers a lot of money, according to Herndon. A bag of seed corn can cost anywhere from $ 100 to $ 300 per bag, depending on the quality of the seed. He has heard that the animals can quickly tear down 3/4 of a 10 hectare field. Lost crops equate to lost money in the need to buy more seeds and recreate the lost crops.
“We (farmers) definitely want people to tell us when they see them because we want to slow their footprint,” said Herndon.
One of the biggest problems with wild boars is the speed at which they can reproduce, he said. He heard from the North Carolina Cooperative Extension that a female can have three litters a year.
An adult sow can have one or two litters a year, according to an NC Cooperative Extension website devoted to wild boars. Female wild boars have an average of five offspring per litter. Young females typically do not have their first litter until they are over 13 months of age, although they can be sexually mature by 6 to 8 months, or in some cases even earlier.
“Between 1900 and 1990 the national population size and distribution of these animals in this country was relatively constant, it ranged between 500,000 and 2 million animals and was found in 18 to 21 states. The National Feral Swine Mapping System reports over 35 states with established wild boar populations. National populations are now estimated to be in the millions, making them one of the most abundant large invasive animal species in the United States, ”the site reads in part.
The NC Wildlife Resources Commission has received reports of wild boar sightings near Robeson County’s southeast border with Columbus County, said Falyn Owens, extension wildlife biologist and member of the NC Feral Swine Task Force. The reports were sent to the Commission via the online reports app.
Individuals who would like to learn more about wild boar reporting can go online at https://www.ncferalswine.org/report-feral-swine.
“At this point, we rely on voluntary reports rather than scientific surveys, so we cannot extrapolate those reports into an accurate estimate of the number of wild boars in a county,” Owens said. “Compared to reports from other counties, however, Robeson County does not stand out as a ‘hot spot’ for wild boars.”
According to the biologist, which government agency is responsible for monitoring wild boars, since they roam freely in the wild, they occupy a gray area in which responsibility for them does not fall to a single agency.
“The NC Feral Swine Task Force is a collaborative partnership between multiple state and federal agencies working together to find effective strategies to reduce wild boar populations across the state,” said Owens. “We know from past experience that the successful treatment of wild boars must be a joint effort.”
One thing is certain, wild boars cause extensive and costly damage to agricultural crops, Owens says, and pose a significant risk to domestic livestock by spreading disease.
“Conservative estimates show they cause at least $ 1.5 billion in agricultural damage annually in the United States,” she said. “As of October 2020, people in NC have reported $ 295,947 worth of damage caused by wild boars, with the caveat that this amount was self-reported and not validated on-site.”
The USDA surveys more than 18,000 farms and ranches in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas for information on damage to livestock caused by wild boar. The USDA Animal and Phytosanitary Inspection Service will analyze the data as a basis for future studies, and any published information will be made available to the public through the APHIS Feral Swine Resources website: aphis.usda.gov/aphis/resources/pests-diseases / wild -pigs / wild-pigs-resources.
For more information on NASS surveys and reports, contact the NASS NC Field Office at 919-707-3333.