Utah is one of the few states I hadn’t heard much from as the swine invasion continues across the nation. With so much desert land in the state, at first glance one wouldn’t really expect to see a wild or feral hog population taking root there. But there’s more to the Beehive State than meets the eye.
One thing to bear in mind is that Utah is one of the top pork-producing states in the US. It’s a huge industry there, which means that there’s a lot of sensitivity around the threat of disease. And we all know by now that feral hogs present a risk of transmitting major diseases, such as pseudorabies and brucellosis. If feral hogs showed up in the state, you can bet there’d be an outcry.
And maybe that’s happening now.
According to this article from KSL.Com in Salt Lake City, there is a population of wild pigs on an island in the Great Salt Lake. It appears that the pigs are Eurasian wild boar, descended from stock that were imported for a hunting operation on Fremont Island. However, at least one hog has escaped the island and was found on a nearby causeway. That animal drowned during capture attempts, but it illustrates the possibility that more of the swine could escape the island and spread to other areas.
From the tone of the article, I’d say the presence of these animals comes as a surprise to Utah wildlife managers and biologists. Now that the light has come on, though, it looks like there may be movement afoot to find a way to get rid of them altogether. Apparently, Utah law prohibits the importation, possession, or collection of non-native species such as sheep and wild boar, which means the hunting preserve is already in violation of the law. However, as explained in the article, no one seems to know whose jurisdicition the hogs fall into.
Curiouser and curiouser…