According to Noel Myers, state director for U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services, wild pigs reproduce at a prodigious rate, and that trait is causing major problems.

"The (SCDNR) puts the population of feral hogs at about 150,000 animals as of now," Myers said. "That's based on the data they have available, but I think that's a conservative number.

"Wild hogs can breed three months after birth, and they can have two litters per year with five to seven pigs per litter. Add to that, the problem of illegal transportation of hogs into our state, and the number of hogs in South Carolina is likely rise significantly over the next few years. It's likely we'll see a increase in vehicle incidents, agriculture destruction and see more evidence of them as predators."

Myers said that on the positive side, hogs are a good animal for recreational hunting and provide good table fare - at least those that are not too large.

"Wild hogs are extremely difficult to control once they become established," he said. "They are not protected in South Carolina, and there is no closed season or bag limit on private land.

"Over the last few years, in order to slow the spread of hogs in South Carolina, the General Assembly has made it illegal to release hogs into the wild or to remove a live hog from the wild without a permit."

Myers added that when handling wild hogs to always use personal protective equipment - such as protective gloves - when hauling or butchering the pigs. They are natural carriers of several diseases, although when properly cooked they are safe for consumption and excellent table fare. But when handling, butchering and processing, he said they can present a hazard.

"Just be aware of the issue and wear gloves and protective clothing when handling and processing a hog," Myers said.