Sanitary Waste Landfill Effects on an Invasive Wild Pig Population
Being opportunistic omnivores, wild pigs (Sus scrofa) readily feed on edible garbage. Given the presence of substantial volumes of edible food waste, large multi‐county and regional municipal sanitary waste landfills constitute attractive forage resources for pigs, providing a year‐round anthropogenic source of potentially high‐quality forage. Our objective was to assess the effects that a large regional landfill has on the local pigs foraging in that facility's waste disposal cells. The landfill, located on the United States Department of Energy's Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina, USA, became operational in 1998 and pigs began foraging there in 2001. By 2009 >100 pigs/night were observed foraging in the landfill, suggesting landfill establishment may have important consequences for population dynamics, public safety, and disease transmission. We evaluated changes in body mass, fetal litter size, numbers of pigs removed, and wild pig‐vehicle collisions (WPVCs) before (1980–2000) and after (2001–2019) pigs began foraging in the landfill on SRS. Body mass during the after period increased to a greater extent for pigs in the vicinity of the landfill compared to pigs on the rest of SRS. Fetal litter size increased for pigs in the vicinity of the landfill, whereas it remained unchanged on the rest of SRS. Our density surrogate (number of pigs harvested) increased around the landfill during the after period by 2.9 times, whereas on the rest of the site it only increased by 53%. No WPVCs occurred adjacent to the landfill before 2001, but WPVCs increased along the 2 major roads bordering the landfill after 2001. Effects of sanitary waste landfills on wild pig populations scavenging there can present unique challenges to population management, control, public safety, and disease transmission. Potential approaches to address these challenges could be exclusion fencing to prevent access to the landfill's waste disposal cells or enhanced placement of waste cell covers to reduce access. © 2021 The Wildlife Society.