What extent of damage can be expected when planting wildflower seeds in an area regularly visited by feral hogs? In some cases do the hogs actually help plant the seed as they root around? Does it depend largely on when in the life cycle of the wildflowers the hogs do the digging?
Are there any methods to discourage feral hogs from rooting in new plantings? One native seed company suggested stapling straw erosion control matting over the planting.
We're working on hog control, but don't expect the situation to be resolved before the ideal time for planting wildflowers has passed. Fencing is impractical in our situation, due to the large area being planted. And from what I understand, hogs usually find their way through fencing eventually.
Feral hogs have become a serious problem across the US. They tear up the soil and vegetation rooting for food (e.g., tubers, roots, mushrooms, insects) and make large depressions destroying almost all vegetation in the wallows that they make. In areas where they are merely passing through and doing some mild rooting, it is conceivable they could help plant the seed as they turn over the soil. However, when they are doing serious rooting or serious wallowing, wildflower plantings are not going to have much of a chance. I have seen areas where the pigs have been that look as if they have been worked by earth moving machines. I am very skeptical that putting down erosion control matting over the planting would keep the hogs from rooting or wallowing there. My feeling is that the pigs will take the erosion control cloth as a special challenge to uproot and/or destroy. My recommendation is to keep working on hog control. The fewer hogs on your property, the less the destruction and the more likely you will see success with the flowers. Try to determine the areas that the pigs are using most often and avoid those that seem to have the heaviest use for your wildflower planting. Sow your seeds where there has been the least disturbance and pray that the pigs don't move their major usage to the place you've just seeded.
Here are links to two publications with useful 'official' information about the hogs and control efforts by the State of Texas:
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