Auburn University wildlife professor wins major award for book on invasive wild pig research

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An Auburn University faculty member is among a group of experts recognized by a major scientific organization for a groundbreaking book about invasive wild pigs.

Steve Ditchkoff, the William R. and Fay Ireland Distinguished Professor in the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, along with his co-editors, won The Wildlife Society’s 2020 Wildlife Publication Award in the “edited book” category for the book, “Invasive Wild Pigs in North America: Ecology, Impacts, and Management,” published by CRC Press in January 2020.

Rick Spaulding, chair of The Wildlife Society’s Wildlife Publication Awards Committee, praised the volume.

“It is a fantastic book, both in terms of content and presentation,” Spaulding said.

Founded in 1937, The Wildlife Society, or TWS, is an international organization that addresses national and international issues affecting the current and future status of wildlife in North America and throughout the world.

In addition to co-editing the book, Ditchkoff authored or co-authored four chapters. 

“The chapters were authored by the leading authorities on wild pigs in North America,” Ditchkoff said. “The book is considered the seminal reference on information relating to wild pig biology and management.”

Ditchkoff’s co-editors were Kurt VerCauteren, who leads research on invasive wild pigs at the National Wildlife Research Center; James Beasley, an associate professor at the University of Georgia; John Mayer, manager of the Savannah River National Laboratory in Aiken, South Carolina; Gary Roloff, a Michigan State University professor; and Bronson Strickland, an extension professor of wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture at Mississippi State University.

The book addresses a gamut of issues and data surrounding wild pigs—citing the animals as “the most destructive introduced vertebrate species in the United States”—including their biology, ecology, damage and management. Wild pigs are responsible for an extraordinary amount of damage in both natural and anthropogenic systems throughout North America and represent one of the greatest wildlife management challenges North America faces in the 21st century.

The book’s aim is to establish a foundation for managers, researchers, policymakers and other stakeholders to build on their future. It provides comprehensive coverage of wild pig biology and ecology, techniques for management and research and regional chapters. It is an asset to readers interested in wild pigs, the resources they affect and how to mitigate those impacts, and it establishes a vision of the future of wild pigs in North America.

“This book certainly deserves the acclaim it has received,” said Janaki Alavalapati, dean of the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences. “Dr. Ditchkoff and his team have contributed an unprecedented resource for those who are affected by invasive wild pigs and the dangers, threats and widescale destruction they present.”

Ditchkoff’s research focuses on the ecology and management of large mammals, primarily white-tailed deer and wild pigs. He has authored or co-authored more than 90 peer-reviewed scientific articles and has published more than 40 popular articles in outlets such as Deer & Deer Hunting and Wildlife Trends.

In addition to his research, he teachers undergraduate and graduate wildlife courses at Auburn.

(Written by Teri Greene)

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The Auburn University College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment is a flagship institution for natural resources-based degrees including natural resource management, geospatial and environmental informatics and sustainable biomaterials and packaging. The school serves as the backbone for Alabama’s $30 billion+ forest, wildlife and natural resources related enterprises. Its mission is to create next-generation professionals and leaders, to develop new knowledge and disseminate science-based solutions to our clientele to improve the social, economic and environmental well-being of citizens in Alabama and beyond.