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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

This week, facts about... acorn-loving wild pigs.


CURWOOD: It's the time of year when acorns fall and animals hoard them for the cold months ahead. Squirrels aren't the only critters who are nuts about nuts. Acorns are also favored by the wild pig. Domesticated pigs were first brought to America by Ernando DeSoto in 1539. Some escaped, of course. Then Russian wild boars arrived in 1890. Some of them got loose, too, and the populations began inter-breeding. So, wild pigs can be either feral hogs, Russian wild boars, or a mix of the 2. Today wild pigs are found in 19 states, although pure Russian boars are found only in New Hampshire and in Texas. The Lone Star State has the largest population of wild pigs, somewhere between 1 to 2 million. The big-shouldered beasts are hunted year-round in California, and are sought after for their lean meat and their long tusks. Male hogs weigh in at 200 pounds on average. Wild pigs have been called "buzzards of the forest" because of their voracious appetites. Besides acorns and mushrooms, the porcine omnivores have been known to eat small birds, lambs, fawns, even rattlesnakes. And according to one hunter who traps them, wild pigs are also quite fond of raspberry-flavored Jell-O. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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