Increased wild hog population responsible for high E. coli loads in the streams of Alabama


Feral hogs are not native to the United States. They were introduced to the United States in the 1500s by settlers as a source of food. Their populations have expanded from about 17 states to at least 39 over the last three decades with as many as nine million feral hogs roaming across the country.

Experts estimate that roughly 255,000 of those pigs reside in Alabama and are now present in all of the state's 67 counties. Most wild pigs are a mixture of domestic breeds and European wild boar and cause extensive crop damage. Wild pigs are aggressive with razor-sharp tusks and have been known to attack humans. The animals are susceptible to at least 30 transmittable livestock diseases and can host over 35 types of parasites.

Mark Smith, an Extension agent at the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, said:

Researchers are looking at the impacts of the pigs on water quality in Alabama, which may be more severe than anticipated. When pigs get in there and start rooting around in streams, you get some sediment. More importantly when they defecate in those streams, e. Coli levels go through the roof. When you’ve got high densities of pigs, don’t go playing in the water.

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