TODAY   |  July 05, 2013

Feral swine wreak havoc in Fla. communities

Wild pigs, whose population can triple in a single year, are invading communities in Florida, and with no natural predators, ranchers say they are posing a major problem, destroying fields and lawns and spreading diseases. NBC’s Kerry Sanders reports.

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>>> an expert says is a national crisis. wild pigs . thab numbers are rapidly growing. here's kerry sanders .

>> bounding across a florida pa pasture, a wild pig . it's a problem and nationwide it's getting worse.

>> it's like a rat in your house. not a good thing.

>> we climbed aboard a chopper at sunset. they're most active at the last hour in daylight. they spotted dozens on the run across the ranch in florida .

>> look at those guys right there and that's normal.

>> yes, that's a nice big family unit and then maybe that one way out there to the side, that might be a big boor.

>> wild pigs can weigh more than 200 pounds. they're destructive and can kill livestock and spread diseases. now they're moving north. in 1987 there were about 2 million wild pigs in about 20 states. mostly in texas, florida and parts of the south. now an estimated 6 to 8 million wild pigs are roaming in 47 states.

>> this increase we have seen in wild pigs sun questionably dramatic. we don't have another species here in the u.s. that has increased at this same rate.

>> experts say the population explosion is partly due to hunters transporting them across state lines. some of the animals escaped from hunting preserves and they reproduce 2 litters a year so the problem is only getting worse.

>> the reason people should care is because eventually it could result in increased cost at the marketplace.

>>> the u.s. department of agriculture estimates this species is responsible for $1.5 billion in agriculture damage and destruction each year.

>> this is truly becoming a national crisis. we don't take this seriously, if we don't do something, this is going to wind up costing this country a lot of money.

>> for today, kerry sanders , nbc news.

>>> we have been snickering about wild pigs all morning.

>> $1.5 billion and you look at the map.

>> the comparison to the new rat.

>> i don't think so.

>> we can deal with a little rat but the 200 pound pig is a little different.

>> yeah, you see that in your front yard.