Feral Hog Accident Reports and Information
There are many motorists who can recall the first deer-involved wreck they’ve had. Whether it was along a county road or on a major highway, the numbers are astounding! However, there are more and more motorists who recall their collisions with an animal without the mention of the word ‘deer.’
Texas’ feral hog population is rising and doing so by astonishing numbers.
When I think of hogs I envision a small bodied, black or brown animal that looks similar to a common pig. However, this just isn’t true. Wild hogs are large, dense animals with a heavy body mass and low center of gravity. They can weigh up to 700 lbs! Because of this low, thick body statue, they inflict horrible damage to a moving vehicle.
Many hunters will attribute to the ways camouflage has helped them in capturing their prey. While we as humans look to stores for our camouflage, animals are born with it. A good buck’s antlers and a tree’s branches can be hard to distinguish between depending on how still the buck stands. Same is true with wild hogs, most especially on our roadways at night. Think about it: A black hog, standing lower than your hood, on a black-surfaced road with or without moon coverage… it isn’t a pretty scenario. Most times the motorist just does not have time to react and take evasive action because they never saw the hog to begin with.
When researching the wild hog versus vehicular accident situations, I came upon the same written information time and time again. Two words: tapetum lucidum, Latin for “bright tapestry.” Most vertebrate animals (deer, horse, etc.) have a reflective layer behind the retina which when looking into a light reflects back like that of reflectors on bicycles and such. When your vehicle’s headlights shine into the eyes of a deer, the deer’s eyes reflect a luminous white glow which is very easily discernable. This tapetum lucidum reflection is what normally serves as a warning sign at night for those of us on the roadways. You see animal eyes and you instinctively slow down. Where wild hogs are concerned, though, the normal does not fit. You see, wild hogs do NOT have that reflective layer behind the retina. So whether spotlighting on your land or just cruising along on your way home, you will not see wild hog eyes looking back at you even though they are there. The scenario I gave you earlier with the hog on the highway at night, think again about that. How many of you were thinking “I’d see its eyes!” So what do we look for to warn us? The low body makes it almost impossible to discern a hog from above your hood. The denseness makes it improbable to distinguish it as a live animal on the road. The camouflage black or dark colors of the wild hog make it all that much harder to spot during dark hours. Now I tell you even though this pig is watching you come at it, you WILL NOT see the typical reflection we all watch for as motorists. How do you see it? What is your warning? Well, unfortunately, there is none. This is one reason why the numbers are climbing for motorists and wild hog vehicle accidents.
In addition to all, feral hogs are known to move statistically more during night hours as this is their instinctual habit in trying to keep away from predators.
Savannah River National Laboratory scientist and nationally known feral hog scholar Jack Mayer gathered sobering data in a study of hog-vehicle accidents at Savannah River Site.
“Since the late 1980’s, populations of introduced wild pigs have expanded their distribution from 19 up to at least 38 states,” he wrote in a study he co-authored with fellow scientist Paul Johns.
Damage caused by feral hogs to native wildlife and the environment is well documented. Mayer, though, wanted to get a better handle on the amount of property damage and personal injury they could inflict from motor vehicle accidents.
He used a special computer program (appropriately named “PIGPOP”) to analyze 179 pig crashes at SRS, where hogs were already thriving prior to the government’s acquisition of the area in 1951.
The study showed:
- 57.9% - Males were more likely to be hit on highways, the majority (76.2) were traveling alone at the time of the crash.
- Of the 179 accidents studied, 50 involved multiple animals, with the largest number of pigs struck in a single accident being seven – and involved a messy disaster with a tractor-trailer rig.
- Seasonal differences were low: 30.2% occurred in summer, 26.2% in winter, 23.5% in fall and 20.1% in spring.
- The days of the week were even studied. Wednesdays held the highest number of accidents while Sunday held the fewest.
- The most severe accident studied at SRS resulted in the death of a site security officer whose vehicle struck a male boar that was lying in the road after having been already struck and killed by another motorist.
Although such deaths are uncommon, it goes without saying that as the hog population continues to rise; the vehicle accident toll involving wild hogs will rise as well.
Thus, "the potential total annual cost of wild pig-vehicle collisions in the U.S. would be approximately $36 million," Mayer wrote. "As populations of this invasive species continue to increase, this potential economic impact to the nation could become substantial."
“Common sense dictates that as feral hog populations in Texas have increased over the past two decades, so have hog/vehicle collisions,” says Dr. Billy Higginbotham, AgriLife Extension Fisheries and Wildlife Specialist based in Overton.
"Based on (Mr. Mayer’s) study, potential annual cost of wild pig-vehicle collisions [vehicle damage and occupant injury] in the U.S. would be approximately $36 million annually.” In his quote, Dr. Higginbotham notes that the $36 million dollar figure would break down to an average of $1,173 per vehicle, per accident in cost for repairs due to wild hog collisions.
Higginbotham noted that in Texas alone agricultural damage - primarily destruction of crops and pastures - caused by feral hogs is estimated to be $52 million annually. "This does not include vehicle-hog collisions and damage to urban-suburban areas including recreational areas like parks, golf courses and landscapes," he said.
We must all take extra precaution while traveling our streets now-a-days. Although “the norm” may be to hit a deer, it is becoming ever more popular that the next animal you hit will be a hog. Of the 38 states infected with these menacing creatures, we feel Texas is hardest hit with its population of wild hogs being estimated in the 2-3 million range. We here at Texas Wild Hog Relief are fighting to subdue the constant growing of Texas’ wild hog population, thus making our streets safer for our children and grandchildren. We encourage you to join in! There is no sighting too small; where there is one hog, the probability of several more behind it is all too familiar. Call us with any of your wild hog concerns!
Damage Caused By Hogs
Hogs Cause more damage to the land than many people think! Here are a few images to show just how bad a Wild Hogs can tear up your land!