By 2008 wild pigs were documented in all 46 counties with small scattered populations in the piedmont related to recent translocations by humans. Wannamaker and Davis contend the population explosion along the Congaree has been spurred by an increase in peanut production.

Peanut production in South Carolina was limited to a few counties and a few thousand acres in the state, prior to the end of the government-supported peanut program. Since the end of the program, peanut production has grown to more than 70,000 acres, and is expected to push even higher in 2012.

Wannamaker, who started growing peanuts in the mid-2000s says wild pigs were around prior to peanuts. “We would see signs every once in a while, usually where they had been feeding on nutsedge along the edge fields,” he says.

The South Carolina grower says getting rid of the nutgrass was a bonus and the pigs rarely did any damage to cotton or other crops.

With the coming of peanuts, wild pig herds quickly multiplied. When peanuts aren’t available, they now quickly switch to corn, even soybeans in some locations. In peanuts, it looks like they are GPS-guided Wannamaker quips. They go straight down a row of peanuts and they don’t miss many at planting time or when the peanuts get ripe, he explains.

Wannamaker says the first few years they grew peanuts, wild pigs were a problem primary after planting. The pigs would go down the row and dig up and eat seed peanuts. Now, they still are a problem at planting time, but they also go down the row digging up mature peanuts.

Pointing to snow white field of cotton, Wannamaker says, “This 60 acre field was planted in peanuts in 2009. We use GPS for planting, and we offset cotton rows and peanut rows. The pigs would get in the cotton field and go right down the row where peanuts had been planted last year, looking for peanuts.

It looked like we had plowed the cotton field from one end to the other. They didn’t do any damage to the cotton, but they plowed up that field like they were following our GPS rows,” the South Carolina grower says.

Farmers along the Congaree have tried everything from hunting to trapping to more exotic schemes to try and get rid of wild pigs, but so far the pigs are winning,” according to long-time Calhoun County Extension Specialist Charles Davis.