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On August 4, 2019, Twitter user @WillieMcNabb posted:
“Legit question for rural Americans – How do I kill the 30-50 feral hogs that run into my yard within 3-5 mins while my small kids play?”
This set off a viral response, causing feral hogs to trend on Twitter. Multiple memes were generated, someone created a feral-hog themed video game, and someone else created a short story.
It turns out that behind this tweet are some serious concerns. Feral and wild hog numbers are in the millions across the U.S., half of which are in Texas. They destroy natural habitats and impact commercial agriculture (both crops and livestock). They have no natural predators and can thrive in many different climates and ecosystems, reproducing very quickly. They also are susceptible to carrying diseases that pose huge concerns for the multi-billion dollar pork industry. Efforts to control the hog population have not been especially successful, in part because hogs are so intelligent. “This situation has been described as the greatest emerging wildlife challenge that the United States faces in the 21st century,” says John “Jack” Mayer, a biologist at Savannah River National Laboratory .
Hog Wild Develop a model for the feral hog population in Texas. Take into account both number and spatial distribution of the hogs. Use your model to predict the feral hog population over the next five years.
Eat like a pig Create a second model (that uses the output of your first model) to quantify the damage to agricultural crops and/or livestock in Texas due to feral hogs.
Hogtied How much money should the Texas state government spend on efforts to control the feral hog population? How do various strategies change the model you created in Q1? Which strategies should be used, taking into account food safety, cost, and projected decrease in hog population?
Problem Author: Dr. Karen Bliss, Virginia Military Institute
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