By Dan Bewley, The News On 6
WAGONER COUNTY, OK -- Wild hogs are on the rise in Oklahoma. Feral swine are in all 77 counties but worst in southern and eastern Oklahoma.
The News On 6 talked to one Wagoner County rancher who says they are getting out of control.
There's a problem afoot on Jeff Lancaster's ranch.
"We're looking at where the hogs have been rooting," said Wagoner County rancher Jeff Lancaster.
Wild hogs to be exact, Lancaster and his family have killed close to 100 feral swine on their property since this past Christmas.
"They're mean. They'll get after you. They're a just nasty, nasty animal," said Hunter Lancaster.
The hogs destroy practically everything. They've rooted up nearly 20 acres of pasture meant for the Lancaster's cattle.
"They'll take and turn over every cow pie and dig down three or four inches looking for grubs," Jeff Lancaster said.
Their handy work does more than ruin grasslands. Feral swine are known for eating wildlife, laying waste to crops, and the ruts they build in a field does a number on farm equipment.
"It's hard on the tires of the tractor, hard on the axles," Hunter Lancaster said.
The USDA reports feral swine cause $1.5 billion in damages in the Unites States. The problem in Oklahoma is getting worse; the Lancasters say they never had a problem until three years ago.
To give an example of how quickly this problem can spread. A pig reaches sexual maturity at six months and the population can double every four months.
The Lancasters admit there's not much they can do, just continue to manage the growing problem and hope their pasture can be restored to its natural beauty.
"We have something coming in doing this to us; it'll take all year for this to recover - if then," Jeff Lancaster said.
It is legal to hunt feral swine in the state - including from a helicopter - as long as that is done on a commercial hunting property. The only time it is not allowed is during deer season.