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Trapping wild pigs
12 January 2009


Daryl Hawaii has a problem with wild pigs.  The pigs are not native to the island and they have no predators (other than humans) so they can easily overpopulate an area.  The pigs cause a substantial amount of ecological damage, digging up native forests as well as farm lands, gardens and lawns.

Managing the wild pigs is a subject with no easy answer.  The traditional Hawaiian lifestyle includes raising, releasing and hunting pigs for sport as well as for food.  Some people would prefer to let the pigs live wild without hunting, trapping or any interference from humans.  Other people would prefer to see the pigs eradicated.  Anybody concerned with the island's ecosystem knows that it is important to at least control the pig population.

Personally, I agree somewhat with all the groups.  I've hunted and eaten the pigs on my property and they are quite tasty.  I've also suffered many hundreds of dollars worth of damage because of the wild pigs.  Despite how angry they can make me, I still don't want to harm the pigs unnecessarily, they're just doing what comes naturally to them.

Bait A good fence around the farm might solve the problem except that pigs can break through just about any fence I can build.  Good fencing is not cheap, not easy to install and definitely not maintenance free.  I've allowed some of the local hunters onto my property but that can have its own set of issues.  Neither hunting nor fencing is a perfect solution.

Government attempts to control the pig population often use traps.  The easiest trap is probably a snare trap which is nothing but a rope tied into a noose and attached to a tree.  Snare traps are simple and effective but considered inhumane because the pig panics and constantly charges against the snare until strangled to death.  Many hunters don't check their snares often enough and snare traps have been made illegal.

Another style of trap is a pen or a cage with a trap door.  I started making one with some old fencing.  I put up three walls then after the pigs got used to the fence I was going to install the fourth wall.  It would have a one way door so the pigs could go in to get the food but wouldn't be able to get out.  Large pen traps can catch an entire herd of pigs in a single night.  The trick is to use very strong fencing.  That's why I gave up on the idea because the fencing I have isn't nearly strong enough.

Trapped Pigs are amazingly strong.  When they panic they will charge anything, including a steel fence.  When not panicked, they are excellent diggers.  Even if the ground is rocky pigs can get their snout under the fence then lift or bend it up until they can squeeze underneath.  Pigs can also climb over the fencing if it isn't high enough.  When trapped, it's amazing what pigs can do.

The best trap is a heavy duty one made from steel.  I have just such a trap in my back field.  It's not my trap, it was built by some native Hawaiians that have been ranchers on the island for generations.  They definitely know how to build pig traps.  Good thing too because the trap has several large dents in it where large boars have rammed it at full speed.

We baited the trap with macadamia nuts.  That's the primary food the pigs are coming onto the farm to eat so it makes an excellent bait.  We caught the first pig within a couple days.  It was a young boar, maybe a year and a half or two years old.  There was also a baby piglet in the trap.

Rope1 Rope2

Getting the boar out of the cage takes some careful effort.  The preferred method is to lasso the boar then climb in the cage and hogtie it.  Wrangling a wild boar can be exciting.  Even with the snout tied shut the boar can still cause some damage.  If it got loose it could cause some very serious damage.

Piglet Once the boar was subdued, the piglet was put in a dog kennel.  If you've never heard a scared piglet squeal, it's quite a racket.  The plan is to raise the piglet until it is full grown.  Valerie and the girls wanted to keep the piglet but after saying 'No' about a thousand times they finally gave up and let a neighbor take it.

I may try building my own pig trap.  Even if I had several traps I doubt I could catch the pigs as fast as they can breed.  Plus pigs are smart so they may eventually learn to avoid the trap.  In the mean time though, I'm looking forward to some free pork.  The local pigs make excellent burritos.

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