Feral hogs are a "significant problem" in Texas, with over 2.6 million living in the state. Several counties have even offered bounties to those who wish to hunt them.
What should you do with the dead feral hogs, though? According to Click 2 Houston, eating feral hog is a thing. They taste like domestic pork, but with a slightly gamier taste. Smaller to medium-sized hogs taste better.
But there are some things you need to know before you gather 'round the dinner table.
While it's safe to eat feral hog, you need to make sure the meat is harvested and processed safely. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns against the 24 diseases that people can get from wild hogs. Most of these diseases are related to eating undercooked meat.
But there's brucellosis, which people can get if they come in contact with infected animals or contaminated products. The germs that cause brucellosis are spread by hogs through birthing fluids and semen. People can be at risk if you come in contact with infected hog tissue, blood or fluid, or if these fluids enter your eyes, nose, mouth or a cut on your skin. Symptoms associated with coming into contact with germs that case brucellosis are fever, low appetite, chills, fatigue, sweating, joint pain, headache and muscle pain.
Here are some tips to protect yourself:
- Avoid contact with visibly ill animals or those found dead
- Use clean, sharp knives
- Wear eye protection and gloves when handling carcasses
- Avoid direct contact with bare skin with fluid or organs from the hog
- Burn or bury disposable gloves and inedible parts of the carcass after butchering
- Wash hands as soon as possible and frequently
- Clean all tools and reusable gloves with disinfectant or dilute bleach
To cook feral hog, the CDC recommends cooking the meat to an internal temperature of 160 degrees.
“Feral hogs make great table fare. However, always use a meat thermometer to ensure an internal temperature of 160°F has been reached and the meat is thoroughly cooked," the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension's website says.
For more information — or even some recipes — on cooking feral hogs, click here.