As wild hog populations increase and continue to expand their ranges across the Southern United States, landowners are looking more and more to hunters to help keep hog populations in check. While hunting hogs is a fun endeavor, it can also produce tasty table fair with lean and tasty protein. From smoked pulled pork and grilled tenderloin to spicy pork chili verde and hearty boar stew, more and more hunters are looking to wild pigs to provide much needed protein for their families.
Eating wild game can potentially pose risks to those who partake. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites brucellosis as the main risk to humans who consume wild game. Wild hogs, elk, bison, caribou, moose and deer can all potentially carry the bacteria, which can cause fever, chills, weight loss, and joint and muscle pain. The good news is that taking proper precautions when field dressing, butchering and cooking, wild hog is safe to eat for humans.
Brucellosis is caused by bacteria carried by certain wild game and can be contracted through contact with the animal’s blood, body fluids or tissue. The CDC recommends using protective gear, such as gloves and eye protection, any time a hunter handles a carcass. Proper field dressing, butchering and cooking the meat thoroughly will help keep hunters and their families healthy.
The CDC recommends the following guidelines when handling wild hogs
- Use clean, sharp knives for field dressing and butchering.
- Wear eye protection and rubber or latex gloves (disposable or reusable) when handling carcasses.
- Avoid direct (bare skin) contact with fluid or organs from the animal.
- Avoid direct (bare skin) contact with hunting dogs that may have come into contact with hunted animals.
- After butchering, burn or bury disposable gloves and parts of the carcass that will not be eaten.
- Don’t feed dogs with raw meat or other parts of the carcass.
- Wash hands as soon as possible with soap and warm water for 20 seconds or more. Dry hands with a clean cloth.
- Clean all tools and reusable gloves with a disinfectant, like dilute bleach. (Follow the safety instructions on the product label).
- Thoroughly cook meat from any animal that is known to be a possible carrier of brucellosis.
- Be aware that freezing, smoking, drying and pickling do not kill the bacteria that cause brucellosis.
Taking proper precautions and correctly cooking wild game gives hunters the certainty that their next meal will be delicious and healthy. Armed with knowledge and proper technique, hunters can rely on wild hogs for high protein and low fat meat and while helping mitigate hog populations.