Invasive species put a huge stress on local environments and bring with them many problems, especially when it comes to native species. Invasive species are those not native to an area, and are typically introduced to new regions through human intervention. One of the most problematic invasive species today is the wild boar. Although only native to Eurasia and Northern Africa, wild boar can currently be found in every continent in the world excluding Antarctica. They were first introduced to the United States by Spanish explores in the 16th and 18th centuries and have since spread all across the southern parts of the country.
Wild pigs are pose a huge problem in the United States. Each year the U.S Department of Agriculture spends 20 million dollars for the purpose of repairing agricultural and structural damages caused by wild boars. The boars themselves are extreme generalists in diet and habitat meaning they can survive in many different climates and eat a huge range of plants and animals. They also reproduce prolifically and are known as ecosystem engineers meaning they are disruptive to their habitats as they tend to root and wallow the soil. Lastly, these feral hogs tend to populate some of the most bio diverse areas of the the United States (California and the Southeast), and thus disrupt many already imperiled species.
A study done under the USDA-APHIS-Veterinary Services found that 141 imperiled species across the U.S are susceptible to wild boar encounters and impacts. By using previously population spread data for boar and native species, researchers found that 72.7% of imperiled species in the U.S have wild pig range overlap and thus are susceptible to them. Crustaceans being predicted to be most at risk. The study also found that the Southeast, Southwest, and Pacific Southwest regions of the U.S have the biggest boar populations with boars spanning 72.9%, 62.6%, 41.3% of each area respectively.
Within the study the researchers also note that the wild boars are expected to continue their expansion of the United States and expect over 1,000 more watersheds to be infested with them by 2025. Furthermore, the scientists noted that no studies have ever effectively take into account the damages brought along by the many diseases and parasites the boars carry or of resource competition with other species they cause. Thus, many of their estimates for boar impacts and costs could be underestimated.
In conclusion, wild boars are destroying regional species and are taking over many ecosystems. Its clear that more research needs to be done on the full extent of their damages to local habitats as well as in ways humans can stop these beasts from continuing to terrorize the worlds environments. For more information visit https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-23657-z.
McClure, M. L., et al. 2018. A globally-distributed alien invasive species poses risks to Unites States imperiled species. Scientific Reports, 8 (5332).