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Oklahoma highway accident highlights growing danger of feral hogs

An Oklahoma woman was recovering Wednesday from injuries she suffered when the pickup truck she was riding in struck a pack of feral hogs in the road this week — again raising the danger posed by the nation's rapidly growing population of wild pigs.

Carolyn Martin, 63, of Ryan, Okla., was upgraded to serious condition at Oklahoma University Medical Center after initially having been listed as critical, NBC station KFDX of Wichita Falls, Texas, reported.

The state Highway Patrol said the accident occurred Monday night when the driver of the truck swerved to avoid the hogs, who were meandering along U.S. 81 in Waurika, near the Texas border.

Martin's injuries weren't specified. The truck's driver was treated and released from a Waurika hospital.

Feral hogs — which are descended from domestic pigs that once escaped or were set loose in the wild for hunting — have become an increasing concern in Oklahoma and other parts of the southwestern United States.

The Oklahoma Agriculture Department has declared them an "invasive species" whose population density is growing in 77 counties.

"Feral swine have proven their ability to adapt and multiply, and it is unlikely they will ever be eradicated," it says.

Because hogs are among the most intelligent animal species, wild hogs "learn to avoid danger very quickly" and "attempts to control them just make them less susceptible to future control efforts," according to the Texas A&M University Extension Service.

The extension service cited estimates that feral swine cause as much as $1.5 billion in damage to property and crops in the U.S. each year.

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