Genetics. Age. Food/Cover. Those are the ingredients necessary to create maximum size feral hogs or any other wildlife for that matter.
Without the genetic code animals don't have the capacity for super size. Without food and cover it is impossible to feed their potential. And without reaching the optimal age, it is all a moot point.
These three factors are the reason why gigantic feral hogs will become the apex predator in many American cities.
Feral hogs have entered the city limits of many cities in the American South and are becoming major problems for animal control, homeowners, golf course managers and park superintendents.
There are no doubt hogs in cities like Houston, Orlando and others major cities right now with the potential to outgrow the average grizzly bear.
Greenbelts as well as abandoned lots, dumps and other open areas provide adequate nutrition.
Domestic hogs left free to graze integrate with feral hogs and can produce monstrous offspring.[/caption]
And then there is the age factor.
Once hogs enter cities there is virtually no way to control them.
Trapping has very limited effectiveness. Shooting them under virtually every circumstance is off limits for obvious reasons. No one will have the stomach to allow hunters with trained curs and pit bulls to capture/kill them and poisoning (where legal) is not going to be possible due to dangers to pets and people.
So, when that hog with the genes to be a giant enters a city, it has everything else it needs to do just that.
These hogs will do massive damage to everything they put their snout to and will pose a danger to people and their pets. Hogs are most fond of plant material but they can and often do prey on live animals.
That means "Fifi" the poodle could be on the menu when her doting mother takes her for a walk in the park.
Such hogs already exist and have for years but as hogs numbers continue to skyrocket even the urban areas in the feral hog's range that have had no swine migration will see them move in.
Early in my writing career I got some revealing intel on such animals. The first was almost a face to snout encounter.
When taking my girlfriend (now wife) Lisa out on a date at a seafood restaurant we heard something step out of the cane just behind us in the parking lot.
As we fixed our eyes toward the racket a huge mud-covered animal emerged.
At first in the dim light at the back end of the parking lot I thought it was a young steer as cattle are common in any pasture, wood lot or in the case chunk of marsh next to the restaurant.
But it was no steer.
This was a hog, one that weighed well beyond 500 pounds.
It grunted heavily when it saw us (we were only 10 steps away) and then went on about its business of rooting up the ground.
The area the animal came from is a piece of marsh probably in the 300 acre range next to a large refinery facility. This is bordered by a large chip channel and a whole bunch of industrial buildings and homes.
Obviously that huge hog, perhaps a domestic set free to graze years ago as used to be common in Texas had found its nice. It does not take hogs much time to go back to their wild origins and integrate into purely feral populations.
This was not the only time I came across evidence of monster hogs in the area.
Around the same time, a man told me had located a really big black boar in a wood lot behind the Vidor, TX Wal Mart and wanted to know if I wanted to tag along with he and his dogs to catch it.
Two weeks later a letter arrives in the mail with a photo of the hog they killed, all 400 pounds of it. I later drove by the area to inspect and saw the 20 acre wood lot the beast had lived in amongst a city of 10,000.
As hogs push deeper into urban territory, certain individuals will find these sanctuary areas that will allow them to grow to epic proportions.
It will be important to educate the public on these animals with a very special emphasis on not feeding them.
Feral hogs are bad enough but feral hogs without any hunting pressure who know humans feed them will eventually turn to animals that approach people.
And at some point someone will get hurt, maybe killed.
I have written extensively on hog attacks and they are more common than many might suspect.
Having been chased up a tree on two occasions by wild hogs both in Texas and Tennessee, I can attest being on the side of their wrath is a frightening thing.
We should always use caution when hogs are around and realize some of them tend to be more Hannibal Lecter than Porky the Pig.
Chester Moore, Jr.
(Originally published at The Wildlife Journalist in 2016)