Feral hogs a serious problem in Puhoi

It's the phrase that launched a thousand memes, but feral hogs are a serious problem in Puhoi.

About 70 people turned up at the Puhoi Centennial Hall on August 3 to discuss the alarming increase in diseased wild pigs running rampant in the region.

Things got heated after sceptics suggested the problem was exaggerated, prompting testimony from landowners complaining that the pigs are trampling crops, destroying trap lines and threatening native flora and fauna. 

In May, wild sows were seen destroying native bush in Christchurch's Port Hills. 

Some of the Puhoi pigs are diseased and could spread illness such as E. coli and salmonella to humans, Local Matters reports

There were various theories suggested about what has led to the plague of pigs, which has increased hugely in the last two years. Dunn's Bush reserve has gone from shooting four or five pigs a year to 50, requiring professional contractors to help control the population.

Some attendants claimed hunters are deliberately releasing domesticated pigs for them to track, a practice seen in Northland last winter

It was also suggested that the construction of the motorway from Puhoi to Warkworth was driving pigs out of their former habitats and into more hospitable, recently forested land. 

A working group consisting of Puhoi landowners, hunters and local government representatives will formulate a plan to deal with the abundance of pigs.

The serious agricultural issue became an international joke in early August after a surreal tweet arguing against greater gun control in the US.

"Legit question for rural Americans - How do I kill the 30-50 feral hogs that run into my yard within 3-5 mins while my small kids play?" William McNabb asked, prompting thousands of tweets making fun of the bizarrely specific scenario.

McNabb was arguing that he and other American landowners needed assault weapons to ward off wild pigs  - a theory debunked by the Missouri Department of Conservation

Here in New Zealand, Federated Farmers has expressed concern about the recent ban on semi-automatic weapons, with rural security spokesperson Miles Anderson making a similar argument to the much-maligned McNabb. 

"Pest animals can be found in very high numbers on some private land and the right tool is needed to control them humanely and effectively."