More important, feral pigs can carry diseases that can be transmitted to livestock and to humans.
"Each feral hog is a walking biological package," Ryan explained. "They've been known to carry quite a variety of diseases and parasites."
The USDA's APHIS website contains quite a list: pseudorabies, swine brucellosis, classical swine fever, African swine fever, bovine tuberculosis, influenza, blue-ear pig disease, anthrax, tularemia, West Nile virus, salmonella, trichinosis, streptococcus, E. coli, ticks, fleas, lice and internal parasites such as lungworm.
DNR officials worry that the popularity of hog-hunting shows on cable television might encourage people to purchase and release pigs with the idea of hunting them.
"We don't want the spread promoted at all," Ryan said. "It will take collaboration by various agencies and groups to make sure the economics and environment of the state don't end up affected by these animals."
DNR officials stocked Eurasian wild boar into the Spruce Laurel watershed in 1971, but Ryan said people shouldn't confuse the two.
"They're completely different animals," he explained. "Wild boars aren't a 'pioneering species.' Their reproductive potential is fairly low. Feral pigs, on the other hand, tend to move into an area and take it over. They have very high reproductive population, and their numbers tend to increase quickly."
Feral swine cause major problems in several southeastern states, and Ryan doesn't want West Virginia to join the list. "We want to get on top of this before it gets out of hand," he said.