News & Politics

How Much Should You Worry About Feral Hogs Around DC?

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Feral hogs were A Thing on the Internet Monday, which may lead you to wonder: Wait, do we have them here? Herewith, an update on the feral hog situation in DC, Maryland, and Virginia:

Maryland

Hog factor: 🐗

Breeding populations of feral hogs have not yet established themselves in Maryland, which borders states with breeding feral hog populations, including Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Virginia. But they have been spotted, often as roadkill on I-68, says Jonathan McKnight of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, who calls them “wretched animals.” The Free State does, however, have “released pet swine running loose in southern Maryland,” McKnight says, a situation he describes as “particularly problematic.” These pigs are annoying, but they’re unlikely to be feral. Maryland responds quickly and aggressively to reports of the animals, and if it knew a population had made its way into the state, it would dispatch the beasts as possible and encourage hunters to do the same.

District of Columbia

Hog factor: NONE

Feral swine are not much of an issue in the District. The Humane Rescue Alliance says it hasn’t received any calls about the beasts. The city’s road density helps keep the porcine peace. “If they were there, they’d be getting run down,” McKnight says.

Virginia:

Hog factor: 🐗 🐗 🐗

Virginia has some issues with feral swine, who are new and particularly unwelcome residents. “We have to suspect that there have been and currently are people moving feral hogs to new areas where feral hogs didn’t exist previously and releasing them for sporting (hunting) purposes,” a Department of Game & Inland Fisheries webpage dedicated to the animals. In 2017, a teenager in Culpeper shot545-pound possibly feral hog that charged him. (“I was kind of shocked to see how big it was,” Jacob Breeden told the Culpeper Star-Exponent. “When he came up to me the way he did, I had no choice but to shoot him.” Feral hogs are a nuisance species, so there is no season or limit on the number you can blast into pulled pork if you have the chance (though the USDA says feral swine are a problem we can’t “Barbecue Our Way Out” of). Virginia’s feral swine problem is nowhere near the dimensions of the situations in Florida and Texas, and the Old Dominion’s population is on the decline, says DGIF biologist Mike Dye. “We have several active focal areas where we are working to actively reduce and eliminate populations,” Dye says, and the state is monitoring for new “hot spots” as they form. “We have come a long way here in Virginia but there is still considerable work to go,” Dye says.

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Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.