BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — A new study by LSU AgCenter says feral hogs are costing Louisiana farmers millions in economic losses.

Growing feral hog populations, now at an estimated 700,000 in Louisiana, are wreaking destruction on agricultural property, the study says. Estimated economic losses total $91.1 million for Louisiana farmers annually, according to statewide expansion of 2020 survey results. The LSU AgCenter estimates $66.2 million in agricultural commodity production losses and $24.9 million in non-production losses.

A previous study from 2013 said feral hogs in Louisiana caused an estimated annual economic loss of $74 million.

“Due to the high reproductive rate of feral swine, statisticians have estimated that approximately 70% to 75% of the population must be harvested to control feral swine numbers,” the study says. “In Louisiana, hunters harvest less than half that so populations continue to grow according to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. “

Background on the study states that feral hogs were brought to the United States in the 1500s as a source of food, however, the animals were allowed free-range and escaped enclosures. That wasn’t the only time in history the animal was brought from abroad. Eurasian wild boar was brought to the country in the 1900s for sport hunting, the study said.

A section about feral hogs on the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries website cites three methods to control hog populations — recreational hunting and trapping, daylight and nighttime shooting, and aerial gunning via helicopter. Licensed hunters in Louisiana are allowed to hunt for feral hogs year-round during legal daylight shooting hours, according to state hunting regulations.

In a mail survey for deer hunters conducted by LDWF, wildlife officials said 213,300 feral hogs were harvested in the 2019-2020 hunting season.