Date of this Version
Wildlife Society Bulletin 45(1):170–175; 2021;
As wild pigs (Sus scrofa) expand throughout North America researchers are increasingly being tasked with trapping and marking entire sounders (family groups) to attach monitoring devices or other identifying markers to gather knowledge to inform management. Capture and marking procedures can be challenging, dangerous for both researchers and animals, and time consuming, particularly when handling sounders. We developed an integrated pig‐handling system to efficiently sort, weigh, chemically immobilize, and mark multiple wild pigs simultaneously in a controlled manner. To assess the functionality of the system, we evaluated 18 capture events in Texas, USA, from January 2018 to March 2019, where we marked 221 pigs of varied age classes and group sizes (2–19 animals). Using the pig‐handling system, we chemically immobilized 51 large (41–101 kg) pigs and manually restrained 170 smaller (<45 kg) pigs with injury rates below 4%. Average handling times for large pigs was 71.9 (SD = 25.7) min and <1 min for smaller ones. We released sounders intact and routinely recorded them together on motion‐activated cameras. Incorporating a handling system into wild pig research and management is encouraged to facilitate safe handling procedures for both pigs and handlers.
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