The feral hog population is growing at a rapid rate across the United States, raising concerns for pork producers, farms and wildlife systems.

Current estimates place the feral or wild hog population at more than two million animals in about half of all states, according to a report at the U.S. Animal Health Association annual meeting in Minneapolis.

In fiscal year 2006, 12 swine herds were infected with pseudorabies, and 13 were infected with swine brucellosis; both diseases have been eradicated from domestic swine. Feral swine were involved in all the cases.

Feral swine destroy forest regeneration, row crops, pasture lands and food plots for wildlife areas.

In response to the growing danger, Iowa, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Kansas have launched educational programs to make hog producers aware of the threat posed by feral hogs.

Recently, the Kansas Animal Health Department (KAHD) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have started a program to locate and control the fast-growing feral hog population in that state.

The KAHD and USDA are concentrating on locating feral hogs by surveying landowners, producers, game wardens, etc.

Starting this month, the program will prioritize ground control measures, including trapping and shooting. This will be supplemented by aerial control efforts as the program progresses, says Chad Richardson, wildlife biologist with USDA.