The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that wild hogs, which can weigh more than 200 pounds, are responsible for more than $1.5 billion in agriculture damage and destruction every year. TODAY's Kerry Sanders took a ride in a helicopter to see them firsthand, watching dozens on the run across the 2,000-acre South Fork Ranch in Okeechobee, Fla.
"It's like having a rat in your house,'' Southfork Land and Cattle Company's Bill Wallace told Sanders. "They're just not a good thing."
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In 1987, there were an estimated two million wild pigs in about 20 states, primarily in the South and concentrated in Texas and Florida. Now there are an estimated six to eight million wild pigs roaming 47 states.
"This increase that we've seen in wild pigs is unquestionably dramatic,'' Mayer said. "We don't have another species here in the U.S. that has increased at this same rate."
Experts say the explosion in the wild pig population is partially due to hunters transporting them across state lines, plus some escaping from hunting preserves. The animals also produce two litters a year, rapidly swelling their numbers.
All of it could add up to a higher grocery bill for Americans. "The reason people should care is because eventually it could result in increased costs at the marketplace,'' Wallace said.