Feral Hogs Behavior on Military Base Being Studied through GPS Tracking

28 Feb 2018

The army has a hog problem and not the Harley Davidson variety. Instead, the army is struggling with feral hogs that are tearing up property, hindering conservation efforts, and causing a wide range of problems – including the threatening of endangered species on a large military base in Texas.

To solve this dilemma, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has turned to Clemson University professor and chair of forestry and environmental conservation, Greg Yarrow.

Clemson is currently engaged with the Corps of Engineers on two projects at the military base where the pigs are particularly problematic. One of the ways researches are helping is by exploring the contents of the stomachs of feral hogs to determine what they are eating throughout the calendar year. This helps determine where they are going seasonally. Another aspect is to analyze their locations and habitats.

That is where GPS tracking comes into the picture with researchers using GPS devices which collect an abundance of data, and then used to identify the locations where the feral hogs are getting access to food and where they are gathering. This is intended to help the Army can focus its efforts to curtailing the pig problem in the locations where they will be most effective.

How big of a problem can feral hogs become?

It is estimated that feral hogs cause roughly $44 million in damage to crops, timber, and livestock throughout the state of South Carolina each year. This is in addition to non-crop losses that result from the hogs taking out food plots, cutting off water supplies, damaging equipment, and more.

The problem is proving equally dramatic on the Fort Hood Army base in Texas, which is currently the largest military base in the world. The Army is using what it has learned from GPS tracking information, stomach content, and more to help fuel its research.

The state of South Carolina is watching closely though to use the information gained from this research project to learn more about new ways to curtail the economic damage these beasts cause the state year after year.

Participating in research efforts of this scale provides Clemson students and staff unique opportunities to offer their expertise in projects that are national importance, which is outstanding for the students and the university.



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