It's still rare for feral hogs to attack humans, but some believe Monday's fatality is a grim sign of things to come.
Feral hogs attacked and killed a woman outside a Southeast Texas home, where she worked as a caretaker. The coroner ruled Monday Christine Rollins, 59, bled to death, suffering a severe head wound and other injuries.
The attack occurred in Anahuac, roughly 175 miles south of Palestine.
With more than half the country's nearly 5 million feral hogs, Texas will continue to experience exponential increase in feral hogs, making food, water, and land scarce for the pack animals – some of which can surpass 400 pounds.
“This is the worst I've ever seen it, and I've been here 12 years,” Anderson County resident Amanda Scoggin told the Herald-Press Tuesday. “For the last two or three years, the numbers have gone up so dramatically; I bet there are over 500 hogs, counting piglets, on my property right now.”
Scoggin, 52, lives on 176 acres about 5 miles north of Palestine. Nearly every night she sees more than 40 hogs in her front yard; she keeps her rifle close by. Scoggin estimates she's killed more than 75 feral hogs this year.
“I shoot them right from my porch,” she said. “I won't ever go into the wooded area of my property unless I'm armed. The hogs have become too dangerous and unpredictable.”
Feral hogs have very few predators outside of man. Pack wolves, panthers, and bears have been known to kill hogs, but not in any significant numbers.
Typically giving birth to litters of up to 12 piglets twice a year, feral hogs multiply so fast they are encroaching on cities – where discharging firearms is typically illegal.
“I'm glad I live in the country,” Scoggin said. “I don't know what those people in the city are going to do. The hogs have begun rooting all the way up to my porch this year.”
The hogs are so prolific, biologists and wildlife experts estimate hunters would need to kill 70 percent – 1.75 million – of the state's feral hogs just to maintain the current population. Despite permissive feral hog hunting laws, Texas hunters kill less than half that each year.
“Something has to be done,” Scoggin said. “It's going to continue to increase, and they're going to be here to stay, even through the winter, if something isn't figured out in a hurry.”