Opinion: States Need to Streamline Wild Pig to Plate Process
Kevin Felts 06.13.18
Mass hunting for commercial purposes typically results in drastically reduced populations, or even extinction. For example, during the Great Depression regional populations of the wild turkey and whitetail deer were hunted to extinction. Here in Southeast Texas the wild turkey went extinct around the 1930s, or the 1940s, and were not reestablished until the 1970s when they were reintroduce by state officials.
The first documented European pigs brought to the United States was by Hernando de Soto in 1539. On an expedition to Florida the ships manifest lists 200 pigs. Besides the pigs brought to Florida in 1539, they were also introduced to New England by European explorers.
Escaping into the wild, domesticated pigs quickly reverted to their wild instincts. The southern part of the United States – with our short winters and vast forest – proved to be ideal for wild pigs as their populations exploded. More than 450 years after being introduced to the United States their populations have reached epidemic levels. It is estimated wild pigs do more than $1 billion in crop damage annually.
Various Laws Hinder Pig Population Control
As of yet, nothing seems to be able to reign in the exploding wild pig population. So maybe it is time to try something new?
Various states have laws regulating how wild pigs can be transported and butchered. The purpose of the laws are to prevent the spread of various diseases wild pigs transmit. However, the laws also hinder hunters looking to make money off wild pig meat.
Here in Texas, a butcher has to have separate equipment for butchering wild pigs. The cost of the equipment is a hindrance to small town butchers.
Maybe all of those laws should be changed? Let the hunters bring wild pigs to local butchers, the butchers process the wild pigs, then the pig meat sold at local restaurants. If not sold locally, then send it to restaurants in large cities.
Historically, restaurants offering wild meat have been seen as serving a niche audience. There are numerous reasons to offer wild game – such as the taste, and objections to commercial farms.
Why offer wild pork at restaurants?
- Customers would not have to worry about cooking.
- Hunters would receive a financial incentive to cull wild pigs.
- Restaurant workers are trained in preventing cross contamination.
- Local butchers could make money off the deal.
What we are doing to control the wild pig population simply is not working. Populations continue to explode, and the simple solution is to eat them. So let’s streamline to process of getting the pigs from the woods to the mouth’s of hungry customers.
If there is one thing which has been proven time and time again to control populations of wild animals, it is our appetite.