Opinion | What’s a ‘Feral Swine Bomb’? Don’t Worry, It’s Just Another Distraction from the Risks You Should Be Concerned About

Too many people living by the ocean and overwhelming infrastructure isn’t the government’s fault. It’s a product of entitlement.
By: | February 8, 2022

The prose in the Feb. 2 New York Times article was breathless. Feral pigs in the San Francisco Bay Area are tearing up lawns and ripping their way through golf course fairways.

One biologist characterized the pig incursions as a “feral swine bomb.” Wow. Sounds heavy.

We saw similar coverage of wild turkeys in New Jersey, as reported a few years back in that same venerable publication.

That author described the bird that Benjamin Franklin would have preferred to the bald eagle as our national symbol as “intimidating” to gentle human suburbanites.

A harmless part of our environment, really. Not even much of a flyer.

So turkeys are intimidating. Really? You mean like oxygen is intimidating?

Should we slaughter as many wild turkeys and feral pigs as possible to protect our golf courses and our Audi SUVs? Of course not.

Although if you’ve got a license and a decent rifle I’m not against knocking off a pig and fueling a decent barbeque. Hunting them via ATV and helicopter though? I’ll pass.

If you must.

Risk managers, we are told, measure what matters, and so we must ask ourselves, how much of a risk is wildlife in the suburbs or the country and is it anything to be concerned about?

It’s not anything to be concerned about. What is something to be concerned about is human entitlement, the ravages of which outpace anything a feral pig or a wild turkey can do.

One of California’s real risks is water scarcity. So let’s pull this pork story apart a little. Why do we think feral pigs are leaving the arid landscape that characterizes much of California to push their gleaming tusks into suburban golf courses and lawns?

It’s because that part of the landscape is being watered. The pigs are after the snails and grubs that thrive in the moist soil underneath those blades of shorn-short grass. Makes for easy digging too, compared to what they are used to.

So, should suburban Californians stop watering their lawns and their golf courses? In a severe drought, the government might order them to.

But without government oversight or direction, would those golf courses and lawns get water? Of course they would. Why? Entitlement. Despite severe, almost annual water shortages.

The New York Times article quoted a source that said the slaughter of feral pigs is justified, not just because they tear up green soccer fields, but because they wallow in creek beds, contaminating the water supply.

Hmmm, when a sewage flow entered Santa Monica Bay, human sewage now and 17 million gallons of it, residents sued a government authority, saying it was the government’s fault. No pigs to blame there, not anywhere.

Too many people living by the ocean and overwhelming infrastructure isn’t the government’s fault. It’s a product of entitlement.

Wolves being slaughtered in Montana and Idaho to protect the interests of ranchers and hunters? Entitlement. Flat out. And a grisly kind of political theater.

Feral hogs, wolves and wild turkeys may cause some degree of economic damage, but they are nowhere near the threat that human-caused climate change and other manmade threats are. Not by a factor of one to a million.

If you’re measuring what really matters, relatively speaking, they are no worry at all. &

Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at [email protected].