Recently , I seem to be finding things of interest on the A&E channel. My latest “discovery” was American Hoggers , a series about the Campbell family whose vocation is to hunt down rampaging hogs ( feral pigs ) which are terrorizing parts of Texas. I only heard of this series last month but it’s a year old and apparently a big success because it already has a spin-off, Lady Hoggers . That series , which debuted earlier this month , is about the exploits of a pair of women who catch and dispose of hogs which are running wild in Florida. What amazes me is the manner in which they subdue the hogs . After their hunting dogs have bought a hog to bay , the ladies wade in and ,with their bare hands, flip the hog over and hogtie it ( pun intended) and cart it away. I find it amazing because these hogs are ugly ,vicious brutes , often with razor-sharp tusks.It surely takes a lot of guts to tackle them the way these ladies do. The hogs are butchered (off camera ) and the meat donated to churches and charities. I can’t imagine watching either of these series on a regular basis but they’ve opened my eyes to a few things .
I hadn’t realized the menace that these hogs pose to crops or livestock in the South . Just one hog can root up and destroy an acre of crops in a single night , and often does. Hogs are also vicious in nature, attack small domestic animals and even pose a threat to young children who may be playing outside their homes. In one case , these feral hogs scared away golfers and tore up parts of a golf course before they were eliminated. The sheer numbers of wild hogs are staggering : four to five million , mostly in the Southern states. They have no natural enemies and they multiply like crazy , becoming fertile when they are barely 6 months old. It’s thought that about 60 % of the hogs will have to be eliminated annually just to keep the numbers at their present level. It’s going to take more than the Campbells and the lady hoggers to make a dent in their ranks.
I can’t feel much pity for the feral pigs but I must say that I felt bad when I read that 200 black bears had been killed in New Jersey on the first day of hunting season. Unlike grizzlies and brown bears which are larger and more aggressive , black bears keep away from humans. They have however learnt to scavenge for food in garbage cans kept outdoors and that brings them into contact with humans, sometimes with disastrous results . I realize that their numbers have to be kept in check but I can’t help feeling sorry for them .
At one time , I used to think that hunting was wrong and that hunters were evil . I have long since changed my views about hunting . I still don’t consider it a sport but I think it is necessary to cull the number of deer each year . Any time that there is a mild winter , the number of deer multiply dramatically the following spring . Edison is a heavily built up township with only a few stands of trees here and there but I am surprised sometimes to see a herd of deer clattering down the street on their way to water. A couple of years ago , I was in my driveway just about to get into my car when a large deer with an impressive rack of antlers flashed across the bottom of my driveway. Deer are beautiful creatures and it may sound wrong to hunt them but what is the alternative? If they make it to winter , they weaker ones die of cold and hunger ; Mother Nature is pitiless. And if the deer survive winter and make it to spring , they often die in road accidents when they are hit by cars . I remember driving on the interstate one June , near Chambersburg , Pennsylvania , where there is a section of road with high embankments on either side . Some deer must have jumped down on one side and been unable to get out . They dashed about and were hit by cars and trucks . It was absolute carnage because there were a dozen or more carcasses scattered about the sides of the road ; it made me sick to see it. Sometimes , even in Edison , I see the carcass of a deer lying by the roadside and it is a pitiful sight .Is being shot by hunters any worse than being hit by a car or freezing and starving to death?
As more and more areas get developed , the natural abitats for animals shrink . Men and animals compete for the same space and , unfortunately for animals , in such competition, they are bound to come out second best.