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Abstract: Identification of High-risk Contact Areas between Feral Pigs and Outdoor-raised Pig Operations in California: Implications for Disease Transmission in the Wildlife-livestock Interface

Abstract: Identification of high-risk contact areas between feral pigs and outdoor-raised pig operations in California: Implications for disease transmission in the wildlife-livestock interface

The US is currently experiencing a return to raising domestic pigs outdoors, due to consumer demand for sustainably-raised animal products. A challenge in raising pigs outdoors is the possibility of these animals interacting with feral pigs and an associated risk of pathogen transmission. California has one of the largest and widest geographic distributions of feral pigs. Locations at greatest risk for increased contact between both swine populations are those regions that contain feral pig suitable habitat located near outdoor-raised domestic pigs. The main aim of this study entailed identifying potential high-risk areas of disease transmission between these two swine populations. Aims were achieved by predicting suitable feral pig habitat using Maximum Entropy (MaxEnt); mapping the spatial distribution of outdoor-raised pig operations (OPO); and identifying high-risk regions where there is overlap between feral pig suitable habitat and OPO. A MaxEnt prediction map with estimates of the relative probability of suitable feral pig habitat was built, using hunting tags as presence-only points. Predictor layers were included in variable selection steps for model building. Five variables were identified as important in predicting suitable feral pig habitat in the final model, including the annual maximum green vegetation fraction, elevation, the minimum temperature of the coldest month, precipitation of the wettest month and the coefficient of variation for seasonal precipitation. 

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