‘One of the most damaging invasive species on Earth’: wild pigs release the same emissions as 1 million cars each year


Christopher J. O’Bryan, The University of Queensland; Eve McDonald-Madden, The University of Queensland; Jim Hone, University of Canberra; Matthew H. Holden, The University of Queensland, and Nicholas R Patton, University of Canterbury

Whether you call them feral pigs, boar, swine, hogs, or even razorbacks, wild pigs are one of the most damaging invasive species on Earth, and they’re notorious for damaging agriculture and native wildlife.

A big reason they’re so harmful is because they uproot soil at vast scales, like tractors ploughing a field. Our new research, published today, is the first to calculate the global extent of this and its implications for carbon emissions.

Our findings were staggering. We discovered the cumulative area of soil uprooted by wild pigs is likely the same area as Taiwan. This releases 4.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year — the same as one million cars. The majority of these emissions occur in Oceania.

A huge portion of Earth’s carbon is stored in soil, so releasing even a small fraction of this into the atmosphere can have a huge impact on climate change.

The problem with pigs

Wild pigs (Sus scrofa) are native throughout much of Europe and Asia, but today they live on every continent except Antarctica, making them one of the most widespread invasive mammals on the planet. An estimated three million wild pigs live in Australia alone.

Wild pigs are one of the most widespread invasive animals on Earth. 123rf.com

It’s estimated that wild pigs destroy more than A$100 million (US$74 million) worth of crops and pasture each year in Australia, and more than US$270 million (A$366 million) in just 12 states in the USA.

Wild pigs have also been found to directly threaten 672 vertebrate and plant species across 54 different countries. This includes imperilled Australian ground frogs, tree frogs and multiple orchid species, as pigs destroy their habitats and prey on them.

Their geographic range is expected to expand in the coming decades, suggesting their threats to food security and biodiversity will likely worsen. But here, let’s focus on their contribution to global emissions.

Their carbon hoofprint

Previous research has highlighted the potential contribution of wild pigs to greenhouse gas emissions, but only at local scales.

One such study was conducted for three years in hardwood forests of Switzerland. The researchers found wild pigs caused soil carbon emissions to increase by around 23% per year.

Similarly, a study in the Jigong Mountains National Nature Reserve in China found soil emissions increased by more than 70% per year in places disturbed by wild pigs.

Wild pigs turn over 36,214 to 123,517 square kilometres of soil each year. 123rf.com

To find out what the impact was on a global scale, we ran 10,000 simulations of wild pig population sizes in their non-native distribution, including in the Americas, Oceania, Africa and parts of Southeast Asia.

For each simulation, we determined the amount of soil they would disturb using another model from a different study. Lastly, we used local case studies to calculate the minimum and maximum amount of wild pig-driven carbon emissions.

And we estimate the soil wild pigs uproot worldwide each year is likely between 36,214 and 123,517 square kilometres — or between the sizes of Taiwan and England.

Most of this soil damage and associated emissions occur in Oceania due to the large distribution of wild pigs there, and the amount of carbon stored in the soil in this region.

Read more: Feral pigs harm wildlife and biodiversity as well as crops

So how exactly does disturbing soil release emissions?

Wild pigs use their tough snouts to excavate soil in search of plant parts such as roots, fungi and invertebrates. This “ploughing” behaviour commonly disturbs soil at a depth of about five to 15 centimetres, which is roughly the same depth as crop tilling by farmers.

Wild pigs uproot soil in search of food, such as invertebrates and plant roots. University of Kentucky, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Forestry Extension.

Because wild pigs are highly social and often feed in large groups, they can completely destroy a small paddock in a short period. This makes them a formidable foe to the organic carbon stored in soil.

In general, soil organic carbon is the balance between organic matter input into the soil (such as fungi, animal waste, root growth and leaf litter) versus outputs (such as decomposition, respiration and erosion). This balance is an indicator of soil health.

When soils are disturbed, whether from ploughing a field or from an animal burrowing or uprooting, carbon is released into the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas.

This is because digging up soil exposes it to oxygen, and oxygen promotes the rapid growth of microbes. These newly invigorated microbes, in turn, break down the organic matter containing carbon.

Wild pigs have a rapid breeding rate, which makes controlling populations difficult.  123rf.com

Tough and cunning

Wild pig control is incredibly difficult and costly due to their cunning behaviour, rapid breeding rate, and overall tough nature.

For example, wild pigs have been known to avoid traps if they had been previously caught, and they are skilled at changing their behaviour to avoid hunters.

Read more: Dig this: a tiny echidna moves 8 trailer-loads of soil a year, helping tackle climate change

In Australia, management efforts include coordinated hunting events to slow the spread of wild pig populations. Other techniques include setting traps and installing fences to prevent wild pig expansion, or aerial control programs.

Some of these control methods can also cause substantial carbon emissions, such as using helicopters for aerial control and other vehicles for hunting. Still, the long-term benefits of wild pig reduction may far outweigh these costs.

Working towards reduced global emissions is no simple feat, and our study is another tool in the toolbox for assessing the threats of this widespread invasive species.

Read more: Tiny Game of Thrones: the workers of yellow crazy ants can act like lazy wannabe queens. So we watched them fight

Christopher J. O’Bryan, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of Queensland; Eve McDonald-Madden, Associate professor, The University of Queensland; Jim Hone, Emeritus professor, University of Canberra; Matthew H. Holden, Lecturer, School of Mathematics and Physics, The University of Queensland, and Nicholas R Patton, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Canterbury

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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John Hultquist
July 20, 2021 10:18 pm

They are also dangerous.
Georgia (USA) has been serious about the feral swine problem “removing over 5,000 feral hogs from the landscape since 2017.”

I don’t think CO2 is high on the list for doing this, but if it helps fund initiatives that’s useful.

Reply to  John Hultquist
July 20, 2021 11:06 pm

W. Seago did good work on this one weighing 820 pounds since only had to use 3 bullets from his .38 caliber revolver when his dog signaled beast was on their home grounds.

oeman 50
Reply to  gringojay
July 21, 2021 6:57 am

Wow, that’s a lot of bacon!

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  gringojay
July 21, 2021 8:47 am

That one looks to be about the size of two hogs I saw in the back of a pickup truck north of Big Sur (CA) back in the ’60s.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
July 21, 2021 10:32 am

Yes, Big Sur, CA is the breeding ground for all feral hogs found in the California coastal mountain ranges. William Randolf Hearst imported and released German boar there in the 1920’s to provide hunting stock for his guests at Hearst Castle.

The Saint
Reply to  John Hultquist
July 22, 2021 7:20 pm

I would say that Wild Pigs are, at the very closest, a far distant 2nd to the number one invasive species on this planet.

Reply to  The Saint
July 23, 2021 3:40 am

Woke marxists?

John Hultquist
Reply to  The Saint
July 24, 2021 10:17 pm

Bromus tectorum ?

Reply to  John Hultquist
July 23, 2021 3:44 am

Maybe Biden/Fauci can get ChiComs/Wuhan working on a wild pig corona virus?

Reply to  John Hultquist
July 23, 2021 8:00 am

Compared to all the “PIGS” in Washington DC, feral hogs should be welcome here in our country.

July 20, 2021 10:33 pm

All feral pigs should be electric (EPS) by 2030.

Rich Davis
Reply to  DocBud
July 21, 2021 3:07 am

I demand it be done by 2025!

Reply to  DocBud
July 21, 2021 4:27 am

I imagine they charge fairly quickly.

Last edited 1 year ago by Scissor
Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Scissor
July 21, 2021 8:50 am

They do indeed ‘charge’ fairly quickly. An acquaintance hunting in the Big Sur area had to drop his rifle and jump up into a tree to avoid a charging boar. The animal scratched the stock on his new rifle.

Reply to  DocBud
July 21, 2021 3:02 pm

Wait til the masses find out that pets are a mojo GHG emitters. Dogs, cats, horses and fish have an estimated worldwide carbon footprint that is 2/3 of the beef industry and higher than the poultry and pork industries. Fido and Fluffy will become causalities of the Climate Wars. I wonder feels about this? Will she sacrifice her beloved pet to save the planet?


Reply to  Eisenhower
July 22, 2021 7:43 am

There’s already a push to completely eliminate pet ownership. The president of ASPCA (possibly past-president, I don’t keep up) has said that he wanted to see all pet ownership come to an end. It just hasn’t gone mainstream – yet.

July 20, 2021 10:46 pm

If they can use evil co2 emissions as an excuse to cull pigs, they can use evil co2 emissions as an excuse to cull us as well.

Reply to  Klem
July 21, 2021 4:28 am

Long pig.

M Courtney
Reply to  Scissor
July 21, 2021 6:46 am

Well I’m game if you are.

Reply to  M Courtney
July 21, 2021 9:43 am

Probably shouldn’t meet up in PNG.

Reply to  Klem
July 22, 2021 2:38 am

Breathing – Wikipedia

Inhaled air is by volume 78% nitrogen, 20.95% oxygen and small amounts of other gases including argon, carbon dioxide, neonhelium, and hydrogen.[16]
The gas exhaled is 4% to 5% by volume of carbon dioxide, about a 100 fold increase over the inhaled amount. The volume of oxygen is reduced by a small amount, 4% to 5%, compared to the oxygen inhaled. The typical composition is:[17]

Anyone care to do the math of how much CO2 you add to the environment just breathing per day, week and year?

Reply to  Klem
July 22, 2021 2:45 am

How Much CO2 Does a Human Exhale? | Reference.com

An average human exhales around 2.3 pounds of CO2 in a day. That rate increases by up to a factor of eight during heavy physical exertion and falls somewhat during periods of relaxation, such as during sleep.

Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  JOHN CHISM
July 22, 2021 11:23 am

An average human exhales spews around 2.3 pounds of CO2 in a day.


July 20, 2021 10:56 pm

Things like the net zero and vegan diet concepts in the climate discussion overlook the critical and essential role of fossil fuels in the theory of AGW.


Martin Cropp
July 20, 2021 11:04 pm

I was listening to a report on radio New Zealand, by a soil scientist, he stated that,
1, Global cultivated top soils have diminished by about fifty percent. 2, about 75% of the increase in atmospheric CO2 is from cultivated top soils.
Very interesting.

Reply to  Martin Cropp
July 21, 2021 12:34 am

Where does the carbon in the top soils …better known as topsoil..come from. Would that be that plant matter and even grass . The next question is that grass and plant material got it’s carbon from the atmosphere. Every one knows this process as the carbon cycle which has been an integral part of life on Earth

Reply to  Duker
July 21, 2021 11:45 am

It’s all about cycle times, some soil carbon turns back to CO2 shortly after the plant matter dies while the most recalcitrant hangs around for many decades. One might say that coal is just very recalcitrant soil carbon.

Alastair Brickell
Reply to  Martin Cropp
July 21, 2021 7:42 am

Very interesting Martin…would you have a link to that report? Was it on Morning Report on RNZ? Do you remember who the soil scientist was?

Martin Cropp
Reply to  Alastair Brickell
July 21, 2021 5:01 pm

I think it was Saturday or Sunday morning, checked but cant find it.

Alastair Brickell
Reply to  Martin Cropp
July 22, 2021 2:26 pm

Thanks Martin,

I couldn’t find it either on the RNZ website but I’ll keep trying.

Reply to  Martin Cropp
July 21, 2021 3:09 pm

As a senio citizen this has been a common claim for sine I was in hgrade school. That our soils will be unfarmable within the next 5-10 years. It’s been over 50 now.

Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  Eisenhower
July 22, 2021 11:33 am

“Somebody told me how frightening it was how much topsoil we are losing each year, but I told that story around the campfire and nobody got scared.”

  • Deep Thoughts, by Jack Handey
July 20, 2021 11:37 pm

When I saw this article in Australian media a few days ago, I realised the researchers are geniuses.

The pig problem in Australia is pervasive but chronically underfunded and under researched. There was an article (Farmers seek urgent help with feral pigs but national action plan months away – ABC News) where there was some sort of government steering program that was so poorly promoted the farmers interviewed had no idea it was a thing.

So, in an effort to attach some sort of concern and dollars to eradication of pigs, they just need to be marked with the touch of everyone’s do-it-all bad guy CO2. No doubt rivers of gold will flow now.

Just for the record, the pigs have no value in terms of flesh or meat. They are typically infested with parasites and the flesh is of a bad taste and quality by all accounts.

If we could get rid of pigs, camels, asian water buffalo, rabbits, foxes, feral cats, cane toads an politicians, we would be a country much better off.

Leo Smith
Reply to  Voltron
July 20, 2021 11:55 pm

European wild boar is absolutely delicious, especially when young and tender. Pigs taste of what they eat, mainly.

Reply to  Leo Smith
July 21, 2021 12:19 am

And obviously healthy and energetic boars are pretty unlikely to be invested with parasites. I’ve had some tasty wild pig in New Zealand, too.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Leo Smith
July 21, 2021 9:03 am

I’ve had wild boar taken from the same area in the Coast Range north of San Francisco. The older, larger boar was very ‘gamey’ tasting. The smaller one was quite acceptable. It is not a good idea to eat even domestic pork without thoroughly cooking it!

I had a BBQ with with ribs for friends. One, a vegan (I’m quite accepting of alternative life styles) remarked that the smell of the cooking pork was quite primordial and tempted him to try some. However, the disapproving look from his wife changed his mind.

I had wild boar in NZ a couple of times and it was quite delicious. As to “no value,” they charged extra for it.

Reply to  Voltron
July 21, 2021 12:04 am


We’d be very much better off getting rid of GangGreen and all their venal and incompetent political and virtue signalling crony capitalist and academic supporters.

That’s the real challenge.

Sorting out a bunch of wild pigs? Put a bounty on them, allow farmers, hunters and land owners to shoot them without restrictions and see the results.

July 21, 2021 12:49 am

That’s been tried before , with other feral or noxious animals . You clearly don’t know the reason it only works ..to a point, so I’ll explain that having a bounty can make it economic to leave enough ferals to make it worthwhile for the hunters to come back next year.

Reply to  Duker
July 21, 2021 2:34 am

Exactly and he obviously didn’t watch the video.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Duker
July 21, 2021 4:02 am

The incentives need to be a bit more clever, then.

Maybe you require a hunting license that is fairly expensive and can only be renewed if a minimum number of carcasses have been submitted every month. Make penalties for poaching too painful to risk.

Up to the license renewal quota, there would be no bounty to the hunter. After that, each carcass brings them a steadily increasing bounty. Set the bounty schedule so that it’s feasible to earn a decent monthly income. Introduce competition by having the top 5% of hunters triple their bonus.

Even if people cooperate to game the system by only turning in enough carcasses to keep their hunting license and then selling the rest to a designated alpha hunter who earns the maximum bounty, that system still incentivizes overhunting with the last varmint being the biggest prize.

They need to be thinking of incentives that encourage the tragedy of the commons. It has to be much more valuable to take that last piglet, knowing that if you don’t, your neighbor will get it and buy a better pickup truck than you have.

July 21, 2021 4:30 am

You don’t need to put a bounty on them. Just make it open season 12 months a year, no holds barred and devil take the hindmost. They’ve infested Texas, among other places, and there is no “closed for hunting” season on them. They are pests.

Reply to  Sara
July 21, 2021 5:03 am

Do both! Bounty and open season.

Reply to  Sara
July 21, 2021 9:22 am

Sixty years ago the high school & middle school kids would have eradicated them just for fun.

Now they just play video games.

Chuck no longer in Houston
Reply to  Sara
July 21, 2021 12:51 pm

One of the major problems here in Texas is that, although it’s always “open season”, many, many land-owners want to charge hunters a pretty penny to hunt on their land. On the one hand, they say they want the hogs eradicated, while on the other, they make a pretty good income off the hunters. Kind of conflicting incentives.

Reply to  Chuck no longer in Houston
July 21, 2021 3:35 pm

Feral hog hunting in Texas is a small industry…shoot your hog and there is a guy in a truck awaiting to butcher and put the meat in vacuum plastic bags and refrigerate…want to shoot from a helicopter using a .30 caliber machine gun?…it’s available…night hunting using night vision scopes is common.

Reply to  Voltron
July 21, 2021 12:30 am

“Just for the record, the pigs have no value in terms of flesh or meat.
They are typically infested with parasites and the flesh is of a bad taste and quality by all accounts.”

Utter bollox!
“by all accounts” means all you wrote is just 2nd hand crap.

I can think of nothing more delicious than wild game such as “Wildeschwein” or in France “sanglier”.
It’s an absolute favourite on the BBQ as often as I can get it, (or run one down one without smashing the car in the process).

I regularly get wild boar sausage in french markets.
It wouldn’t be allowed for sale if it was poisonous and not sell if it tasted tainted.

Most wild species are far cleaner and free of pollutants, because they are not stuffed with growth hormones or other “cochonnerie” jammed into our western food chains.
They are clean and usually feed off the best of best in nature.

(wild pheasant is also delicious as are wood pigeon!)

Fact is.
The article above is rubbish.
Co2 from wild pigs? WTF?!

So how come they haven’t over heated the earth in the last 2000 yrs when the forests were larger and the populations larger???

Wild Boar was hunted by royalty in past centuries and was far numerous in past centuries.
It was largely brought under control and made extinct in places like the UK, as well as being brought down in numbers because of the eradication of large parts of its natural habitat consistent with construction of wooden ships during the napoleonic wars.

“A native species, it was originally hunted to extinction at some point during the Middle Ages.
In the 1990s, sightings of free-living boar became relatively common. These animals are thought to have escaped or been released from farms where they were raised for meat.”

In certain places in Italy and France the population is largely out of control, causing a lot of damage, while the green lobby are very much to blame.

One of my friends in Italy works for the forestry ministry, and is tasked with counting them as well as the deer, and other species that lives in our (still large) forests.

Give me a rifle any time, and next 2-3 of them dropped with a few bullets goes in the freezer!

Reply to  pigs_in_space
July 21, 2021 12:56 am

wild boar are not the same as feral pigs… domesticated escapes gone wild.

Nor is the parasite burden in Australia comparable with that in Europe.

I love eating wild boar… I do feel a bit guilty eating them in a rural restaurant when one of their cousins can been seen from the window…

Reply to  griff
July 21, 2021 3:09 am

Good Lord!

An article by Griff that actually makes sense.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Disputin
July 21, 2021 9:08 am

This person must be an imposter. Will the real griff please stand up!

Abolition Man
Reply to  griff
July 21, 2021 3:53 am

Wait! I thought we were supposed to resign ourselves to eating insects and bugs as a source of protein? Are you saying that the parasites aren’t on the list of approved protein sources on the GangGreen menu?
Feral pigs aren’t the same as wild boar; but they are really close and I’ll bet they are even tastier, hence the inclusion of pork in almost EVERY cultural cuisine on Earth! Maybe cook them in a pit, Polynesian style; or grind ‘em up and make some smoked sausages if they’re too large or gamy! There are endless recipes and folks willing to try them if the bureaucrats will just get out of the way and let the hunt begin! Open season on wild pigs!

Reply to  Abolition Man
July 21, 2021 4:32 am

Feral hogs in the USA are the byblows of Russian boars imported by some genius in the South to produce a “better” hunting target animal by crossing them with domesticated hogs.

It didn’t backfire much, did it?

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Sara
July 21, 2021 9:19 am

In California there is a mix of feral pigs and hybrids with European wild boar that escaped captivity from the Hearst Castle property in San Simeon. There probably aren’t any pure-bred European or Russian boar left by now, however.


Reply to  griff
July 21, 2021 5:06 am

Don’t feel guilty Griff. If you took your plate out to those pigs they would gobble it up.

Reply to  Rah
July 21, 2021 8:47 am

Lay still for a few minutes and they will gobble you up.

Reply to  griff
July 21, 2021 8:08 am

The differences between wild boar and feral pig are not much. In fact, I always understood they were the same species, removed from each other only by generations of breeding. According to a couple quick searches, escaped pigs revert to wild boar characteristics fairly rapidly.

If you want additional info on this animal, here’s a great video from a “game” perspective. (My kids and I have enjoyed learning quite a bit from this channel since the info is presented in a novel and interesting way.)



Reply to  griff
July 21, 2021 7:34 pm

There is very little difference I have eaten both

Reply to  Voltron
July 21, 2021 2:32 am

Wild pork is one of my favourite meats.

another ian
Reply to  Voltron
July 21, 2021 3:02 am

From a harvesting background –

Seems time in a freezer gets rid of the parasites. Hence the intermittent export of such pigs from Australia seems governed more by economics than parasite loads

Reply to  Voltron
July 21, 2021 5:16 am

I caught a feral pig once (a small one, maybe 20lbs), and I can verify that the taste was foul. What I learned later was that I should have kept it for a while, feeding it on grain to flush the rancid taste out.The dog enjoyed eating it, though.

Now, about that CO2: Taiwan is about 36,000 sq km. At say 1kg of extra CO2 emitted per sq m, that’s about 36m tons of CO2. Not even a blip on the scale.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Mike Jonas
July 21, 2021 9:25 am

Most wild animals tend to acquire the the taste of their diet. Thus, bear will taste fishy if eating a lot of salmon, or taste like berries if their diet consists of a lot of berries.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
July 22, 2021 6:32 am

I went truffle hunting up into the hills of Campagnia, Italy with a guy and his dog. We encountered huge piles of wild boar scat, I mean 20-40 lb loads on the trail. These big boys were also looking for truffle. The truffle hunter (who carried a rifle) did say that the boar from this area tasted like truffle. A lot of the locals kept pigs for special occasions and fed them truffles.

David Blenkinsop
Reply to  Mike Jonas
July 21, 2021 11:48 am

Growing up on a farm, I used to help raise pigs for meat, but no one in my family would never have eaten boar meat — due to the hormone induced “boar taint” smell that you would be almost sure to encounter cooking meat like that! Is this the kind of thing that you encountered with the wild boar meat, a powerfully sweet smell, like urine mixed with sandalwood?

I’ve always found it incredible that people would eat wild boar, but the odor may well be different with the wild game, I’ve never tried any wild pork myself. Also, I’ve read that not everyone is able to detect this scent (amazing as that seems). So that may be a factor as well.

Reply to  Voltron
July 21, 2021 4:18 pm

Let’s start with the politicians.

July 21, 2021 1:20 am

Being the Conversation, they didn’t catch their own contradiction: Right after stating that animals that dig up soil cause bacteria to release carbon, they inset and link an earlier article about the echidna that explains how that animal helps spread organic matter in the soil by digging it up for food.

Didn’t Oz, maybe NWT, once have a problem with feral cape buffalo that had been imported for game?

another ian
Reply to  dk_
July 21, 2021 3:06 am

Water buffalo, not Cape

Reply to  another ian
July 21, 2021 10:51 pm

Thanks. I vaguely remembered reading about them a long time ago.

Was it true that those were once somewhat controlled or reduced by licensed hunts and guides, bounties, and relatively permissive hunting gun regulations?

Peta of Newark
July 21, 2021 1:25 am

Quote:”This releases 4.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year”

The figure I use, maybe something similar to the New Zealand radio commentator?, is 10 tonnes per acre per year.
This came from an experiment reported on, now entirely vanished (so much for The Internet Never Forgets) a farm in SW Scotland. The farmer ploughed a tired old pasture field and some CO2 flux meters installed – they stayed there for over 2 years on bare ploughed field in a not esp warm or sunny part of the world.
Each year those flux meters saw 10 tonnes of CO2 blow away

Thus, the hapless pigs will be releasing nigh on 90 million tonnes per year – from their allotted 9 million acres
The Nature article linked to is interesting but not any where near the right ball park either as regards quantity.

The Significant Problem for EVERYBODY, inc assembled company, is the notion of Carbon Cycle
As regards the soil/dirt/soil-organic-matter (SOM) and fossil fuels is that everything created by plants is NOT recycled back to CO2

For 2 really obvious reasons:

  • Where did fossil fuels come from?
  • Where did the existing SOM come from? It was not created in the big bang nor did it fall out of the sky when earth was being ‘built’ 5 billion yrs ago.

Re the 2nd point: Earth started as bare rock so surely Shirley, for SOM to be present at any place here on Earth, the process of its creation MUST be one of ongoing positive accretion.

yes yes yes, maybe 99.9% does get turned back to CO2 but the little bit left behind becomes the SOM (maybe coal oil gas etc) and gradually builds creating the 2 basic soil types there are:

  1. Topsoil = properly called “The A Horizon”)
  2. Subsoil. Given whatever name you like, different everywhere you you ask

Left undisturbed for millennia or 10’s of millennia, topsoil (stuff rich in SOM) will build to depths of maybe 3 metres. Beyond that Oxygen cannot get down and it will, eventually, become coal.

Take all that on board and consider that what the pigs are described as doing is ‘Tillage’ and by my figures, releasing 10 tonnes/acre/year

Take that to just the US corn field – 100 million acres – One Gigatonne of CO2 annual release

Apart from that, what we have here is a Really Pathetic Buck Pass, some sort of hatred directed against pigs digging up roots, tubers worms and bugs. ##
Childish in extremis,
But wait, how much dirt does your average gardener, anywhere and everywhere around this world, dig up every year, (See where this could go?) **

## Good grief, by doing what the pigs do, looking for tubers/roots, is how we ever so clever Humans switched off our own Vitamin C production.
While out hunting, pigs perchance, the hunters relied on underground roots to supply their water – which almost always and as per potatoes now, come with stonking amounts of Vitamin C, After a while, out internal Vit. C supply system simply switched off – it wasn’t needed.

** There are a lot of Health Nuts out there who will tell you that folks who grow and eat their own vegetables not only live to be Ripe Old Ages but also seem to be immune to Dementia in the latter years.
This is of course attributed to The Vegetables

I say, as per me and Contrarian to the very end, what is actually going on is that the gardeners and (raw) vegetable eaters are getting their supply of Vitamin B12 from the dirt/soil/SOM that invariably comes attached to home-grown produce.
It comes from the soil bacteria – bacteria that take residence in our stomachs when we ingest SOM and thereafter make; Vitamin B12

The Vitamin B is essential to immune system function and also brain/nervous system functioning – particularly acute Vit. B12 deficiency presents EXACTLY as Alzheimer’s does.

And why do children eat and experiment with yuk/yeugh things – earthworms for example.
Q. What propels them to do that?
A. Their own instinct, the instinct that tells them that eating dirt/soil/SOM is Good For Them

Just like the pigs are doing – yet supposedly super-clever haha scientists we look down and regard them as lower than low – for doing what is genetically programmed into each and every one of our own children.

There is you actual problem – Global Stupidity

Last edited 1 year ago by Peta of Newark
Reply to  Peta of Newark
July 21, 2021 9:01 am

Hi Peta
I say, as per me and Contrarian to the very end, what is actually going on is that the gardeners and (raw) vegetable eaters are getting their supply of Vitamin B12 from the dirt/soil/SOM that invariably comes attached to home-grown produce.”

You might have a point but I think the most benefits come from daily exercise in the sun that gardeners are prone to.

Less chemical pesticides and growth enhancers might also be a factor.

BTW, I am crowding 80 and still in decent condition in spite of a lifetime of destructive habits. Gardening may have been my savior.

July 21, 2021 1:31 am

Cull them and make sausages.

Rod Evans
July 21, 2021 1:34 am

This is a bit of personal experience with pigs.
We own broadleaf woodland here in the UK and used to have a small holding in the middle of it, raising pigs and chickens plus beekeeping.
Half of the woodland was fenced that prevented the pigs getting access to it, and half was free for pigs to range with sub divided sections therein to enable control.
The half of the woodland not accessed by pigs was always a mass of blue bells in the spring, the grazed sections devoid of any undergrowth plants.
The other observation I will mention is more disturbing. The half of the wood that was pig free is now dying at an increasingly rapid rate from honey dew fungus. The very mature oaks there are dying. The half that was grazed is not as badly affected but there is still some evidence fungus is in there too.
I am happy to report the bluebells continue to impress and are slowly returning in the no longer grazed half, the number of mature oaks is rapidly decreasing.
NB I am just about to purchase a portable wood mill, it has reached that stage of impact.

July 21, 2021 2:39 am

Be very careful what you are going to eat in Queensland pigs_in_space. If caught or shot young they just may be OK, but don’t eat one if you don’t have someone who can recognise TB infection from their lungs.

I cruised some of the Queensland central coast in company with a doctor. We shot quite a few pigs, & he conducted an autopsy on a few of the first. Every one older than a few months was heavily infected with TB, & dangerous to eat. The young ones were probably infected, but it did not show yet.

After every one of the first 8 or so were infected we gave up trying to supplement the menu.

July 21, 2021 4:25 am

Hogzilla is not a joke. Someone finally shot that swine; he weighed in at a massive 794 pounds, and was 8’7″ in length.

They are pests, but if you shoot them and cook them properly, as my friends who hunt the wild hog have told me, they are fine table meat. And it’s free, for the cost of a few rounds of ammo.

July 21, 2021 4:30 am

Hmm. Having been read all this and comments, everything seem to be coming down to perspevtive. It just seems that the initial perspective we humans have is making us fail miserably in the future.

I’m not concerned about co2 that much and the study above is mostly a piece of crap. For sure, we shouldn’t have exported wild boars and many other species to places where they don’t belong and if possible that should be reversed – but wait, what about our own spreading? The most invasive species on earth that turns everything into a monoculture and digs like an army of pigs. We helped some species to do a bit of the same but what we should do is rethink our own ways because the biggest problem here on earth is habitats loss which causes biodiversity loss. From that perspective the Honey Dew fungus is doing good for your forest albeit propably not naturally induced. The best option would be to leave it as is and let nature destroy the forest, but doing so seems just insane from our perspective – and might even be illegal depending from local forest law.

Last edited 1 year ago by Gaia
July 21, 2021 4:52 am

Smart animals. In almost two million miles of commercial driving covering every one of the lower 48 plus Ontario and Quebec; I have only seen one swine that was road kill.

Ran into wild boar several times in Germany. Thankfully they always took off when we came up on them. In the US I startled a sow with piglets while squirrel hunting. Had to scramble up a tree to get away from her.

In a cafe in Bastogne, Belgium there was a Wild boar’s head mounted on the wall that had 6 inch tusks. I could not have gotten my arms to reach around the base of it’s neck. According to some hunters I talked to, such monsters still exist in Eastern Europe.

Ran into a guy in the Smoky Mountains who’s job was hunting ferrel pigs. The state paid him to do it since the swine eat the same stuff as bears and are actually having a negative effect on bear numbers.

Last edited 1 year ago by rah
July 21, 2021 5:00 am

I was living in Sydney in the 90’s. I was in Tasmania the day that 35 people were killed in Port Arthur (I was cycling near Hobart).
As a result the Howard govt made what I thought were radical changes to gun laws.
Friends in northern New South Wales had a farm and were limited to single shot rifles. (As were others). He had used his semi auto to control the feral pigs/boars from damaging his land, crops. The new laws in place made it difficult.

Serge Wright
July 21, 2021 5:26 am

Are they suggesting we de-fund them ?

July 21, 2021 5:28 am

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July 21, 2021 5:28 am

A not unusual picture in German cities, even Berlin

comment image

Jim Gorman
July 21, 2021 5:35 am

Sorry to appear ignorant but why is this any different from harvesting trees for wood pellets and then burning them? It would seem burning and microbe respiration is pretty similar as to the effect on CO2. If one is carbon neutral is not the other?

July 21, 2021 5:38 am

I’m a Razorback and proud of it


AGW is Not Science
July 21, 2021 5:51 am

Filed this under “Emissions don’t mean shit, because atmospheric CO2 does not drive the Earth’s climate.” NEXT!

July 21, 2021 6:33 am

BACON !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Rod Evans
Reply to  dirtydave54
July 21, 2021 11:39 am

Just had a huge urge for a bacon and egg sandwich, many thanks.

David Dibbell
July 21, 2021 6:42 am

Maybe this is not so much about the feral hogs. “A big reason they’re so harmful is because they uproot soil at vast scales, like tractors ploughing a field.” It seems to me this not-so-subtle dig at modern agriculture is what should really concern us. Defend the farmers from being similarly called “harmful.” If tilling works well for them to obtain high yields, good. This obsession with CO2 is what is truly harmful.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  David Dibbell
July 21, 2021 8:43 am

Accepted practice today is not “ploughing” like the feral hogs do. Low-till and no-till are now the current best practice.

David Dibbell
Reply to  Tim Gorman
July 21, 2021 9:04 am

That’s true, but not for all crops or all conditions. My neighbor typically uses no-till for his corn crop, which he chops for silage for his dairy herd.

B Clarke
July 21, 2021 7:02 am

Not just pigs, just know had 40 in calf heifers smash through the fence destroying the water systems for the house and ironically their own water supply, one day late moving them to another field ,” the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence”

After the SHTF their will be millions of cows going wild devouring every thing in site.

Reply to  B Clarke
July 21, 2021 9:40 am

mice, rats, ants, cats, dogs, cattle …

during the year(s) of the cattle, bull dodging will become fashionable again.

There was an end of civilization book titled Earth Abides. (I liked it when I was 11; and since that’s about when my emotional development ceased I would probably like if I read it again).

Captain climate
July 21, 2021 7:08 am

We ran a big model of animals we have never met and we think it represents reality.

July 21, 2021 8:01 am

I have a rather tasty solution. It’s called cull the drove ( herd). Crisis resolved …and the kids go to bed with a full stomach.

July 21, 2021 8:06 am

In some way this article is funny if we read it and compare everything said with another species called Homo Sapiens. There are a lot of similarities.

Roger Knights
July 21, 2021 8:41 am

In early America, and probably elsewhere, laws fined pig-owners who failed to ring their swine. The nose-rings made it too painful or awkward for hogs to root and disturb farm fields.

A phrase that used to be in common use, to needle lazybones, was “root, hog, or die.” That could be revised in a way to encourage pushback against hogs’ invasion: “root, hog, and die.”

In Texas there is or was talk of establishing state-run processing stations / butchering plants to which hunters could bring in their kills. Feral deer could also be brought in, I suggest.

Reply to  Roger Knights
July 21, 2021 1:25 pm

I don’t know about state run but there are places in Texas open 24-7 where you can drop off your hogs to be processed for dog meat. You have to gut and weigh them and then take a picture of the scale then put them in the refrigerated area.

Myself and plenty others here in Louisiana have bought thermal weapon sights just to hunt hogs at night. And even more so in Texas.

Clyde Spencer
July 21, 2021 8:43 am

I guess I missed something here. Echidnas are good for soil and the ecosystem, but feral pigs are bad?

I’m sure that pigs increase the fertility of the soil from their droppings while foraging. Also, the disturbed soil is more permeable, potentially decreasing runoff.

Help me out here. What’s the difference? Size?

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
July 21, 2021 10:59 pm

Prejudice, apparently. I saw that too. The Conversation can’t even manage their own fact checking.
Didn’t they once call B.S. journalism muckraking?

July 21, 2021 9:56 am

The only good thing about them is they taste good.

July 21, 2021 10:25 am

Do climate models have a formula for pig forcing? If not, why not?

July 21, 2021 10:41 am

Men are from Mars, women are from Venus? Babies are delivered by Stork.

Oh, vegans. Or is it Vogons?

Joel Snider
July 21, 2021 1:38 pm

For all the problems invasive species like pigs cause, the one I couldn’t care less about is their C02 emissions.

July 21, 2021 8:08 pm

Well we can always use more blood and bone fertilizer but first, did they measure how much carbon they are putting back into the soil as they overturn the grass?

Quote…On average 23.1% more CO2 was released from these plots, which we associated with potential alterations in CO2 diffusion rates, incorporation of litter into the mineral soil and higher fine root/microbial biomass.”

1/ I’m sceptical about increased diffusion. Any soil soft enough to turn over like that will have high diffusion rates at 5-10cm and I doubt turning would increase the rate much.
2/ Incorporation into the soil of organic matter (by turning sods upside down) returns what they help release.
3/ What does higher root/microbial mass have to do with it other than increasing soil carbon which would normally be released as it decomposes on the surface.
All in all I would not be surprised if the net carbon flux would be close to zero.

July 21, 2021 11:56 pm

How many do I need to barbecue and eat to offset the CO2 from my clapped out old SUV?

Reply to  Alan
July 22, 2021 12:26 pm

Very good point.

Instead of planting trees for carbon credits, can we just shoot and eat a few of these big guys.

We could even set a non-profit and sell the credits to John Kerry so he can keep up his guilt free flying around.

(maybe I should have used hypocrite that has the capacity to feel guilt….)

July 22, 2021 1:18 am

Wild boar were eliminated from the island of Britain and the removal of this key forest species from the process of natural woodland development here was catastrophic.

In the yard of my Surrey home there are 4 oak trees (2 giant Durmast and 2 English). When I took ownership of the property 16 years ago the ground below the durmasts was covered in thick multi-year layers of ground smothering iv that took me 4 years to eradicate. Now twelve years later, and after 2 good mast years (which typically occur every 5 years), the ivy has gone and the density of the oakling regeneration below the canopy is astonishing.

Wild boar were discovered some years ago by a conservationist in Staffordshire to be the absolutely fundamental animal that allows for natural regeneration of oak woodlands. What is seen as damage is in fact the removal of the shade tolerant climax species, such as ivy that throttles (there is no other word for it) the regrowth of the woodland flora.

That other natural vectors such as Jays and Grey Squirrels – itself an oak woodland species, unlike the Red Squirrel which is a pine woodland species and is red for camouflage reasons when seen in the branches of the Red Pine (Scots Pine), these animals like the boar are ignored as critical agents in woodland ecology which seems to me to be another example of environmental hubris.

July 22, 2021 5:42 am

Next there will be a ban on all tillage of soil.

Matthew Schilling
July 22, 2021 8:12 am

What did Pig Ebola do to the wild pig population in the last couple years?

Matthew Sykes
July 23, 2021 2:12 am

Thus ploughed fields doe crops produce far more CO2 than beef and dairy, which is just a cow, in a field.
Not to mention the tractor, machinery, steel industry, fertiliser, pesticide, iron ore, coke mining, and oil drilling and refining, all this machinery depends on, to plough a field.

Yet again, the suggestion bread produces less GH gas than beef is shown to be ridiculous.

Matthew Sykes
Reply to  Matthew Sykes
July 23, 2021 2:20 am

‘…fields for crops…’

July 23, 2021 6:40 am

huge portion of Earth’s carbon is stored in soil, so releasing even a small fraction of this into the atmosphere can have a huge impact on climate change.

Not satisfied with undoing the industrial revolution, now our overlords want to cancel the agricultural revolution.

We can’t burn stuff any more, and now we cant plough the land either.
Or even bury the dead – or cremate them.

If the goal is return to hunter-gathering lifestyle with no technology why don’t they just say it?

July 23, 2021 3:04 pm

G7 governments have announced funding initiatives for technologies to assist in the right-on green goal of removing the element carbon from the whole universe. And from any other universes. With the element already cancelled on social media the job is already half done according to experts at London’s Imperial College.

Tenders are invited to hoover up organic compound containing the bad element from nebulae and interstellar dust clouds. And technologies are sought for solving the problem at source – intervening in supernovas to stop fusion from settling at the island of atomic stability of Z=6, but instead moving on to heavier elements.

In a longer term approach favoured by astrophysicists including Roger Penrose invoking conformal cyclic cosmology, the distribution of energy in the expanding universe can be altered in such a way to influence the next Big Bang following the diffusive loss of all matter to energy, such that the next recursive Big Bang will be prevented from allowing the element carbon to form.

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