SAN ANGELO, TX - Feral hogs might not be as damaging as we thought, according to information published recently in the journal Science.
According to the publication, feral hogs might even be good for the environment.
The research was led by a group with Aaruhs University in Denmark.
They found that large "invasive" or "feral" plant-eating mammals do not have stronger or more negative effects on plant abundance and diversity than their native equivalents.
Instead, large herbivores—whether invasive or native—help shape many ecosystems by spreading seeds and increasing plant diversity, information in the article stated.
Erick Ludgren, an Aarhus University postdoctoral researcher and one of the study's authors, wrote on X that the study's purpose was to question whether a visitor from another planet could tell which large mammals were native or introduced based on their actual impacts.
"If nativeness is a real biological variable, then it must be measurable," Lundgren wrote. "Otherwise, nativeness would remain a description of dispersal history and not be a meaningful way to understand ecological interactions."
For the study, researchers observed animals weighing about 100 pounds and consuming only plants.
The researchers analyzed approximately 4,000 plant abundance and diversity responses from 221 studies to native and introduced large mammals.
They found that the most important factor in determining a species' effects on the surrounding ecosystem was its dietary preferences, not where it came from.
The research found that communities dominated by selective feeders tended to decrease plant diversity, while communities with "nonselective bulk feeders" tended to increase diversity.
The researchers classified feral hogs as "dietary generalists," adding they "often increase plant diversity, at times doubling native plant diversity by suppressing competitive dominants."
In Texas, which boasts the most feral hogs in the country, state officials recently proposed using a poison made with warfarin, a type of blood thinner, to reduce populations of wild pigs.
The species are said to be among the most destructive in the U.S., causing around $2.5 billion in damages. However, the new study argues against those measures, suggesting they are unnecessary and may even be more harmful to the "Conservation of wild and diverse ecosystems.”