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Hunting America’s Exotic Imports

by Craig Boddington |  |  Published on October 25, 2016

New Mexico’s scrub desert, where gemsbok roam, looks a whole lot like this species’ native Kalahari region in Africa.

The word “exotic” is scientifically correct, defining a plant or animal that is not native to a given area and thus got there either accidentally or on purpose. Unfortunately, for many hunters, “exotic” carries a negative connotation, somewhat tainted by a hint of high fences. This doesn’t necessarily apply.

For instance, what about the ring-necked pheasant? The pheasant is probably America’s most important upland game bird today, and I’m amazed that so many people don’t know that the first pheasants were brought in from China only a century ago. Other important exotic game birds include the chukar and Hungarian partridge.

What about wild hogs? Although sometimes called Russian wild boars and other fancy names, wild hogs in North America are simply feral pigs, though some areas have a strong influence from releases of genuine Eurasian wild boars. They have now been sighted in all states except Alaska, with current population estimates as high as 9 million.

They are changing America’s hunting scene because they offer opportunity. The vast majority are free-ranging, increasing annually in range and numbers, and landowners hate them. They’re tough on crops, and their rooting is hard on the land, with agricultural damages from hogs approaching $2 billion. Landowners who won’t allow other hunting often welcome pig hunters.

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