We can thank explorers for discovering America—and we also have them to thank for introducing new species to our country as well. Cortes and de Soto brought us the wild boar, which is now considered to be an invasive species. A&E now brings us American Hoggers, an invasive species of redneck tv.
I watched the show to try and understand what some people in Texas are doing to combat the wild boar problem. It’s hard to watch this show if you care about animal welfare. The show stars Jerry Campbell, who calls himself the Hog Boss. He’s a former Texas Ranger; but I’m still not sure how he could have been in law enforcement when his drawl/mumble is nearly incomprehensible (thankfully, they use subtitles). His current profession is helping ranchers handle their wild boar problems; judging from the first episode, I’m pretty sure this means mostly killing the animals.
The picture he paints of these creatures is negative, most likely to justify his killing of them. He calls them “the scourge of America.” When he gets a call from a local rancher asking for help, he’s happy to oblige as the boar are “…literally eating up all of his profit.” To me, profit doesn’t justify killing a living creature on purpose. Weren’t these animals around long before the rancher even bought the property? Jerry’s son and daughter are also there to help, as is a family friend. Always by Jerry’s side are his hounds, to whom he relies upon to help track down the boar. His favorite and most prized dog is Rooster, an older dog who lost an eye to a boar. Since Jerry doesn’t seem to take issue with killing animals, it makes perfect sense that he has no problem bringing this dog out to hunt the boar—even though he is clearly compromised by having only one eye. At one point, while they are on a hunt for boar, Rooster goes missing and no one can find him. After searching for hours until dark and still having no luck finding the dog, Jerry and his family reluctantly head home. It’s not until the following evening that they are able to find Rooster, who is thankfully unharmed.
I had several major problems with this show, starting with the premise. I don’t want to watch someone go out and shoot wild boar, I just don’t. Are there really folks out there who want to watch people kill animals? Forget the circumstances—I don’t want to watch animals being killed on television. For someone who says he loves his dogs, Jerry puts them in harms way each time he goes to work—and continues to work at least one that has been maimed. Sadly, I don’t think Jerry has much compassion for anyone but those ranchers who are paying his bills.
I understand the need to control invasive species; I live in southeastern PA, where there are more white tailed deer per capita than people. There have been ongoing battles here about curbing the deer population, as they are devastating to plants, vegetables, and cars. They have tried everything from birth control to killing them using various methods (bow and arrow, bolt guns, allowing hunters more access to private land). It seems to me that if the issue is so serious that your township hires a company to control an animal species, there’s clearly a problem. So I understand that there are invasive animal species here in the U.S. and that there really has to be an effort made to try to handle their population; I just don’t think brutally killing them has to be the answer. If there was discussion about alternative methods to killing these hogs on the show, I would have liked to have heard it. Unfortunately, the state of Texas even allows the shooting of these hogs from helicopters now, so this practice is likely to continue.
It bothers me that this kind of show gets network approval. The first time I watched Billy the Exterminator, I was pleasantly surprised to watch him trap and release many of the animals he caught; he is in the “pest removal” business, so he’s not really an exterminator. Billy’s show is a good example of someone who is trying to help us live with animals, not just kill them. Sadly, American Hoggers is just another example of perpetuating stereotypes and violence on television.