We examined home range behavior of female feral pigs (Sus scrofa) in a heavily hunted population on Fort Benning Military Reservation in west-central Georgia, USA. We used Global Positioning System location data from 24 individuals representing 18 sounders (i.e., F social groups) combined with markrecapture and camera-trap data to evaluate evidence of territorial behavior at the individual and sounder levels. Through a manipulative experiment, we examined evidence for an inverse relationship between population density and home range size that would be expected for territorial animals. Pigs from the same sounder had extensive home range overlap and did not have exclusive core areas. Sounders had nearly exclusive home ranges and had completely exclusive core areas, suggesting that female feral pigs on Fort Benning were territorial at the sounder level but not at the individual level. Lethal removal maintained stable densities of pigs in our treatment area, whereas density increased in our control area; territory size in the 2 areas was weakly and inversely related to density of pigs. Territorial behavior in feral pigs could influence population density by limiting access to reproductive space. Removal strategies that 1) match distribution of removal efforts to distribution of territories, 2) remove entire sounders instead of individuals, and 3) focus efforts where high-quality food resources strongly influence territorial behaviors may be best for long-term control of feral pigs.
Additional publication details
Territoriality of feral pigs in a highly persecuted population on Fort Benning, Georgia