Social groupings within wild pig populations are referred to as “sounders.”
These sounders are generally comprised of related generations of females and
piglets. Conversely, subadult males may associate in smaller familial groups
while mature males tend to be solitary in nature. Generally a sounder will
consist of 8 or fewer pigs that may live within a home range of only a few
hundred acres. In areas consisting of higher quality habitat with abundant food
availability sounders may be larger in size. The concept of sounders and the
group-living habits of wild pigs are important to understand when implementing
population control efforts. Matters are typically complicated, however, because
wild pigs are very intelligent and extremely reactive to human disturbance. As
such, successful control efforts must maintain a focus on the removal of
sounders as these contain the greatest proportion of female pigs.
Removal of the breeding component of the population (i.e., entire sounders) is
the only way to slow the reproductive growth of this incredibly adaptive
species. Fortunately, the most effective means of removing sounder groups is
also inexpensive when compared to economic losses associated with pig damage.
The use of baited corral traps on an ongoing basis will simultaneously
accomplish multiple management goals by removing multiple pigs in a single
capture occasion, often removing an entire sounder, and concentrating removal
efforts on female pigs across all age classes. In addition, corral-type traps
are easy to install, require little maintenance, and can be relocated with ease.
KDFWR strongly recommends science-based control efforts for wild pigs as these
protocols concentrate on the removal of female pigs across all age classes,
thereby decreasing population growth. This approach is adaptive in nature,
however, and also employs hunting as a component. While the removal of pigs by
hunting is often an opportunistic venture, intensive hunting efforts can both
help and hinder effective control activities. When removal efforts rely too
heavily on hunting, for instance, the disturbance associated with human traffic
and associated gunfire is often sufficient to make pigs become nocturnal, or
night-active. In addition, intensive hunting pressure will also cause pigs to
shift movement patterns to adjoining properties and increase their wariness.
Consequently, intensive hunting pressure can actually promote range expansion by
pigs and subsequently hinder additional removal efforts by corral trapping.
stated previously, control efforts must be adaptive in nature so as to promote
continued success in removal efforts. As such, hunting can and should be used
to remove pigs when those actions will not jeopardize the overall management
goals. For example, the removal of a lone pig is always beneficial, though
passing on shooting into a sounder in favor of setting a corral trap can yield
removal of the sounder rather than a single pig. Moreover, when following
trapping efforts, hunting can help to remove trap-shy pigs. In these instances,
females, should always be preferentially removed when an opportunity presents
itself and not the larger males that are generally preferred by hunters. It is
critical to understand that truly successful wild pig control as an ongoing
process, rather than a recreational hunting opportunity. This is especially
true considering many of Kentucky’s now thriving wild pig populations are the
direct result of illegal releases for hunting opportunities.
Learn more about the KDFWR Wild pig trapping cost-share program