Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Gone Hog Wild!

Actually, they are Wild Pigs (Sus scrofa), but either label congers images of a mess.  Wild pigs are in Four Holes Swamp and have begun to frequent the area around of the boardwalk.  We have noted the negative effects of this issue before in this blog and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and the Clemson Extension have dedicated substantial resources toward the increasing problem...and it's not just a problem in South Carolina as a quick Google search reveals.

Signs of pig activity can be seen around the southern leg of the boardwalk, which traces a path along the edge of the swamp.  Pigs root through the soil in search of food, which can turn the soil up to three feet deep, disturbing the habitat sufficiently as to make it unsuitable for native plant and animal species.

Pigs also create extensive wallow areas, think large mud puddles, to help cool their bodies and rid themselves of parasites.  This makes the swamp quite attractive to the pigs.

A major obstacle to the removal of invasive pigs is the inability to be at the same place at the same time as the pigs.  We have set up cameras to see if there is a pattern to the pigs' mainly nocturnal movement, but have yet to capture images showing that species of mammal.  However, we have plenty of images for the ubiquitous Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis).

We have also set a trap in the upland area beyond sight of the boardwalk.  Significant damage has been done to that habitat as pigs have rooted around in search of plant and animal meals.

The gates at the front of the trap swing to allow access into the trap, but cannot be pushed in the opposite direction to allow pigs to exit the trap.  So far, the corn bait has only attracted hungry raccoons (Procyon lotor) and passing interest from a wary pig or two.

Finally, even the beavers (Castor canadensis) are likely tired of their invasive mammalian kin.  During a recent swamp stomp, we noticed that pigs had been rooting within the beavers' dam and had created numerous breaches along the structure.

Images by Mark Musselman

1 comment:

Swampy said...

They're marching on DC!