Big Bad Pig: Things are Not Always What They Seem

It’s cruel to hunt wild pigs. They should be left alone!

Should all feral pigs in Hawaii die natural deaths?

I’ve only seen a wild pig once in the 10 years I’ve been trail running on Oahu. I startled it as I emerged from a long tunnel on the Waimano Ridge Trail – just a glimpse before it saw me and took off. But I do occasionally hear a pig shrieking in the distance when I’m in the mountains. Hunting dogs are probably holding it down while the hunter prepares to stab it through the heart. Rather than sadness or terror, the thought of a successful pig hunt makes me happy. I’ll explain.

Feral pig found on all the main Hawaiian islands

Pig hunting sounds cruel but it’s really not. Look, that feral pig got to run around in the mountains of the beautiful Hawaiian Islands. It had piggy friends, ate juicy, organic fruits, sexed it up with other pigs, and raised its babies. This animal lived an enviable, fuller life than any pig on a factory farm that becomes supermarket-ready bacon and ham. (It had a fuller life than some people.)

This pig lived.

And it destroyed

small brown finch with light pink beak being held upright by its legs
The Akikiki is an endangered bird species in Hawaii threatened by disease-carrying mosquitoes that breed in wild pig troughs. Image from Wikipedia.

Feral pigs are detrimental to the Hawaiian ecosystem in land, sea, and air. Pigs dig up the ground, causing erosion and loose dirt that flows into streams and ends up in the Pacific Ocean. During heavy rains the sediment muddies the sea near the shoreline for days, killing coral by covering it and blocking the sun. Rooting pigs also create rain-collecting furrows in the ground and rotten tree trunks which mosquitoes use to breed and spread disease to endangered birds.

The hunter

Hawaiian pig hunters help Hawaii’s ecosystem by targeting this invasive species.

“Without hunters regulating numbers [of wild pigs], Hawaii as we know it will never be the same. All of the useful meat from this animal is going to be made into appetizers at a baby first luau or a wedding. It’ll be food on the table, not just for our family but for a lot of families.”

-Justin Lee, Big Island hunter
dead pig tied to top of cage on pickup truck bed with five hunting dogs in the truck
A successful hunt. Image by Woodrow W on

The natural dog

The hunter has also trained his dogs to do that which is most natural to dogs – hunt in packs.

Average dogs

  • Are confined to small Hawaii yards or apartments
  • Go on short walks to the corner
  • Rarely play freely off-leash with other dogs in a fenced dog park

Hunter dogs

  • Run at top speed, agility training, in a natural environment
  • Instinctively pursue prey
  • Receive praise instead of being scolded for behaving like a dog

As a result, these highly-trained dogs are happy and mentally and physically healthy. They have an important job finding and holding down the pig until the hunter arrives to kill it.

“Climate change is endangering coral reefs all over the world. And our ability to deal with land-based impacts, like feral pigs, could make the difference in the survival of these reefs.”

-Kyle Theirmann, pro surfer, podcaster, and filmmaker


Pig hunting is a meaningful, bonding activity involving trust, experience, and skill. Hunters arrive at the trailheads before dawn and can take all day to track a pig. Afterwards, they are thankful for the time spent outside, with each other, and to the land for providing. The tradition can span generations, bringing families closer together.

If you are an animal lover, a nature lover, or a humanitarian, you can consider pig hunting in Hawaii a good and meaningful act.

Your Take

What and where do you hunt?

1 thought on “Big Bad Pig: Things are Not Always What They Seem”

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