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Expanding wild pig (Sus scrofa) populations across the southern United States has the potential to impact longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) restoration efforts. The depredation of planted pine seedlings is the most widespread and economically costly damage caused by wild pigs in forest plantations. A better understanding of the ecological factors affecting depredation rates will allow managers to implement best management practices to reduce seedling mortality from wild pigs at their most vulnerable stage of growth. From March 2016 to March 2017, we evaluated wild pig preferences for planted pine and hardwood species at a 34.4-ha cutover site and 4.7-ha pecan (Carya illinoinensis) orchard in Bullock County, Alabama, USA. Wild pig damage differed for the 5 seedling species tested, with longleaf and cherrybark oak (Quercus pagodaefolia) being the most preferred. Ninety one percent of seedlings destroyed by wild pigs were from the cutover site. Wild pigs at the cutover site experienced substantially more hunting pressure compared to those at the other site. We believe the debris scattering practices of the logging crew following a clearcut created a desirable foraging environment that led to the initial discovery of the seedlings. The short-term protection and minimization of seedling depredation in young forest plantations may be the most realistic solution to reducing the impact of wild pigs on forestry and timber resources.
Fern, Micah P.; Armstrong, James B.; Barlow, Rebecca J.; and Kush, John S.
"Ecological Factors Influencing Wild Pig Damage to Planted Pine and Hardwood Seedlings,"
Human–Wildlife Interactions: Vol. 14
, Article 12.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/hwi/vol14/iss2/12