Why feral hogs were trending amid a debate on US gun laws

One man appeared to be justifying the need for assault weapons because of the dangers posed by feral hogs

Feral swine have been called the "rototillers" of nature. Their long snouts and tusks allow them to rip and root their way across America in search of food. Unfortunately, the path they leave behind impacts ranchers, farmers, land managers, conservationists, and suburbanites. Photo provide by NASA / US Department of Agriculture
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An intense debate over gun laws in the United States showed no sign of slowing down just days after two mass shootings took the lives of 31 people in Texas and Ohio.

The debate took an unexpected turn on Twitter when one man appeared to be justifying the need for assault weapons because of the dangers posed by feral hogs. That attempt prompted the animal to trend globally.

“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?” he posted.

In the tweet, a user going by the handle of @WillieMcNabb was responding to American singer-songwriter Jason Isbell, who initially tweeted his displeasure that assault weapons were so prevalent in the US.

Isbell did not mince words when replying to the tweet about feral hogs.

“If you have dozens of hogs chasing your children around your yard, you have problems no weapon will fix,” he wrote, generating hundreds of retweets, and spawning other tweets by users making fun @WillieMcNabb’s post.

Much of the jabs on Twitter revolved around the insinuation that assault rifles were required to deal with the animals, while others seemed curious about their prevalence.

All gun-law aspects aside, according to the US Department of Agriculture, feral hogs, also referred to as feral swine, are considered to be invasive and do cause major destruction to property, agriculture and ecosystems, causing as much as $1.5 billion in damage each year for the US.

They can weigh anywhere from 34 to 113 kilograms, but the US department of agriculture notes that some can be significantly larger, and run as fast as 48kph.

Feral swine have been reported in at least 35 states. Their population is estimated at over 6 million and is rapidly expanding. Range expansion over the last few decades is due to a variety of factors including their adaptability to a variety of climates and conditions, translocation by humans, and a lack of natural predators. US Department of Agriculture