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We talk about invasive species at just about every opportunity we get. These animals are classified as invasive because they are usually non-native, and cause damage to native flora and fauna in some manner. Most of these animals can also be excellent food sources that can help fill your belly while protecting the environment and the local wildlife.
We have plenty of recipes that show how to eat invasive species but never really have gone in-depth into their detriment to our environment, so when I ran across a study that was published this week, I had to share it.
One main reason wild pigs are so devastating to crops and wild vegetation is because they uproot the soil in very large amounts. I don’t know if you have driven around Texas lately, but you can see the damage on football fields, golf courses, and people’s lawns. The results of this study were pretty amazing because it identified the world-wide wild pig population to be releasing the equal amount of carbon dioxide as 1 million cars. The research conducted correlated this information based on a series of local studies linked to the amount of dirt wild pigs up root. How? Well, soil store tons of carbon.
In our recent podcast with Robby Sansom of Force of Nature Meats, we discussed the principals behind regenerative agriculture and why this type of agriculture is very important and relatable to hunters and anglers. You can listen to that episode by clicking here. One core principle in regenerative agriculture is to minimize soil disturbance. “Plowing and tillage dramatically erode soil and release large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.” Through our conversation, I learned that minimizing soil disturbance and protecting the dirt allows for increased levels of organic matter which creates healthier environments for our wild plants and animals. This practice also facilitates the replacement of carbon back into the soil.
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You can also think of a sounder of wild hogs as a group of small relentless tractors tilling the soil all over their local range, displacing carbon as the go along looking for food. It’s estimated that wild pig cause over $300 million dollars worth of damage to crops and pasture land each year in the US and Australia alone. The study focuses on the worldwide population of wild pigs, to include the estimated 6 million in the United States and 3 million in Australia. They ran 10,000 simulations of wild pig population sizes in their non-native distribution, including in the Americas, Oceania, Africa and parts of Southeast Asia.
The researchers used local case studies to determine the minimum and maximum amount of “wild pig-driven carbon emissions.” The amount was staggering. The total estimated amount of worldwide wild pig rooting each year is between 13,982 and 47,690 square miles. That is an area almost the size of Lake Michigan or the state of Maryland. This type of soil disturbance is linked to carbon pollution equitable to that of 1 million cars on the road each year, adding to the already troubling concerns with climate change.
One of the greatest solutions for managing the wild pig might just be the fork and the knife. This may just be our opportunity for hunters to join the fight against climate change. As discussed in another recent podcast with Wild Game Chef and Author, Jesse Griffiths, wild pigs are a damn fine food source. There are enough wild pigs in the US to solve many of the hunger issues we have to date. We just need to help our local leaders find an effective solution to establish a food system using wild pigs.