Happy as a pig in – well, not quite. Feral swine have been mucking up the South for years, and have been increasing their population and geography in recent years, too. And as APHIS wildlife technician Jeanine Neskey points out, they can cause real damages on farms and ranches.

“Livestock and pets may become ill by drinking water from streams or ponds contaminated by feral swine,” she notes. “Humans are at risk when swimming or wading in contaminated water, from eating crops in which feral swine have rooted or defecated, or if feral swine have contaminated the irrigation source for the crops.”

Feral swine also the prime suspects in contaminating surface water and spinach fields in California, which caused a foodborne illness outbreak that affected at least 205 people, killing three.

These porcine pests can also wreak havoc from a conversation standpoint, Neskey says.

“In many watersheds, feral swine damage to water quality, wetlands, and riparian habitats also threatens native wildlife, including threatened and endangered species, which depend on these ecosystems,” she says.

APHIS has set aside $20 million annually to address damage caused by invasive feral pigs. For more information about what the agency is doing to “Manage the Damage,” click here.