Samantha Leivers https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3635-3863
Tyler Campbell https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5962-530X
John Tomeĉek https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7494-283X
Date of this Version
Transboundary and Emerging Diseases Volume 2023, Article ID 4195199, 10 pages https://doi.org/10.1155/2023/4195199
Wild pigs (Sus scrofa) are a prolific, invasive species in the United States of America and act as vectors for many pathogens. An emerging pathogen of concern to the USA is African swine fever (ASF), a deadly viral disease affecting swine that is endemic to Africa and has spread to parts of Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean. ASF affects both wild and domesticated pigs and can be transmitted via several avenues, including interactions between and consumption of dead pigs by their live conspecifics. As wild pigs are considered a serious threat in the transmission of ASF, understanding the behavior of wild pigs towards their dead conspecifics is imperative when considering the transmission of ASF and other diseases in the USA. We placed camera traps at a sample of wild pig carcasses dispatched during four aerial shooting events between November, 2020, and June, 2022, at East Foundation’s San Antonio Viejo Ranch, South Texas. We recorded visitation events to carcasses by live wild pigs and recorded their behavior. Furthermore, we assessed daily carcass decomposition rates by visiting carcass sites without cameras. We found no evidence of cannibalism and recorded live wild pig visitations to only 33% of carcasses before advanced stages of decomposition were reached. Carcass decomposition was rapid (2.5 to 3 days), regardless of season, and the time to the first visitation and investigation of carcasses by live conspecifics was quicker than has been recorded in Europe. We posit that active scavenger guilds at our study site, coupled with high temperatures, result in the rapid decomposition of wild pig carcasses, which reduces opportunities for live wild pigs to interact with them when compared to milder climates. We suggest additional research investigating the persistence of ASF in hot, arid climates and the interactions between live pigs and the skeletonized remains of conspecifics.
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