Jabalí (Sp), Wildschwein (G), Sanglier (F). "Feral" implies a domestic animal or its descendant that is living in the wild, either having been released or escaped from confinement. Although a boar is actually a male pig or hog, the term is widely used as a common name for the species.
DESCRIPTION (male) Shoulder height 30-43 inches (55-110 cm). Weight 150-400 pounds (68-180 kg), sometimes more. Females are somewhat smaller.
The purebred Eurasian wild boar is a medium-sized animal with a thick body, relatively thin legs, a short neck and a long, pointed head ending in a disk-like snout. The ears are erect and there are no facial warts. The coat is composed of bristly guard hairs overlying a dense, curly undercoat. Cheek whiskers and a neck mane are often present. The bristles are banded, with black shafts and white or tan tips, for an overall grizzled, brownish-gray coloration. Juveniles have horizontally striped coats until 4-6 months of age. The canine teeth are usually long and greatly enlarged, taking the form of tusks. The upper tusks grow outward and backward; the lower ones grow upward and backward, tending to make a circle. The tusks will usually wear against each other, honing their edges sharp in the process. Females have much smaller tusks than males.
Feral pigs differ from purebred Eurasian wild boars in having longer bodies, shorter heads, shorter snouts and longer tails. The skull is shorter and squarer, with the occipital wall at more of a right angle to the longitudinal axis of the skull. The ears may be erect, as in a Eurasian wild boar, or dropped, as in a domestic pig. The coat is shorter and the bristles are a solid color, lacking lighter tips, so that there is no grizzled effect. Only about 30 percent of feral pigs have underfur. Coloration is most often black, but various combinations of black, brown, red and white, sometimes with spots or a white shoulder belt, also occur. Juvenile feral pigs almost never have striped coats. Over time, feral pigs will take on more and more of the characteristics of their wild Eurasian forebears.
Eurasian wild boar x feral pig hybrids can have any combination of the above characteristics. Many hybrids are almost, if not wholly, indistinguishable from purebred Eurasian wild boars.
DISTRIBUTION Small numbers of what are said to be purebred Eurasian wild boars are free-ranging in parts of New Hampshire (Grantham, Merrimack and Sullivan counties) and Texas (Calhoun County).
Free-ranging feral pigs are found in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. They formerly occurred in Iowa, Missouri, Oregon and Washington as well, but are believed to have been exterminated there. Feral pigs are also found over much of Mexico, the West Indies and Central America.
Free-ranging hybrids of purebred Eurasian wild boars x feral pigs are found in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.
In addition to the free-ranging populations, boars of variable ancestry are found on fenced properties in many places; however, it is difficult to hold these animals behind fences for long.
HYBRIDIZATION Please see text above.
REMARKS The purebred or Eurasian wild boar was originally found throughout Europe and southern Asia, including many offshore islands, and across North Africa. They may have first been introduced in the United States in New York during the 1880s. Later introductions were made in North Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, Florida, California, Texas, New Hampshire and on several coastal islands. In all, or nearly all, cases, the purebred boars have interbred with feral pigs.
Feral pigs are domestic pigs that are living in the wild, either having been released or escaped from confinement. Domestic pigs probably were first brought to North America by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage in 1493, but the first documented introductions were made in Florida by Hernando de Soto in 1539 and 1543. Domestic pigs were widely introduced by early settlers, both as fenced and free-ranging animals, and spread throughout the southeastern United States from Virginia to Missouri and from Texas to Florida, with populations today numbering in the millions. Also widespread in California from introductions by the Spanish during the early 1500s. Pigs were brought to Hawaii by Polynesians around A.D. 1000 and are now found in large numbers on all the major islands. Some introduced pigs were actually Eurasian wild boars brought in to provide hunting or to add new genes to feral herds.
Several states-notably California and Florida, but also Tennessee, North Carolina and West Virginia-treat wild pigs as game animals, with hunting by license.
Free-ranging boars-whether purebred, feral or hybrid-are excellent game animals. Alert, wary and largely nocturnal, with acute senses of hearing and smell, they are difficult to hunt and can be dangerous at close quarters.