Feral Hogs: Bad for Missouri
proven to be sufficient to eradicate feral hogs.
Trapping and snaring are the most common and effective methods for catching hogs. By using corral-type traps with a one-way door, multiple hogs can be caught at one time. If trapping is not an option, then shooting hogs that come to bait is effective. Because feral hogs are often active at night, this method is enhanced when state and federal employees use night-vision equipment.
Another control method involves using a “Judas pig,” or a pig that betrays the others. By catching and placing a radio transmitter on a juvenile pig and releasing it back to the wild, it gives away the location of other hogs, and eradication efforts can then be focused on the whole group. Specially trained bay dogs are sometimes used to catch the Judas pig and its comrades. Bay dogs can also be effective for removing small pockets of hogs or hogs that are “trap shy.”
Aerial gunning (shooting pigs from a helicopter) has also proven to be very effective under the right circumstances. USDA / APHIS–Wildlife Services have used this method extensively in Kansas and Texas.
Such aggressive and seemingly extreme methods must be used to effectively reduce feral hog numbers. Because of their large reproductive potential, 70 percent of a feral hog population must be removed annually to keep it from growing.
Illegal Release of Feral Hogs
With all of the negative affects associated with feral hogs, it seems elementary that everyone would support their complete eradication. Unfortunately, some individuals have contributed to the spread of feral hogs by intentionally releasing them for the purpose of recreational hunting.
While some might argue the recreational value of hunting feral hogs in Missouri, the detrimental effects of feral hogs far outweigh any benefits. Releasing feral hogs is illegal and should be reported directly to law enforcement agencies, or by calling the Operation Game Thief Hotline at (800) 392-1111.
Hunting for Hogs
When people ask me where the best places are to hunt feral hogs, I usually tell them to go to Texas, Oklahoma or Arkansas!
Targeting feral hogs to hunt in Missouri is extremely difficult and not recommended for the casual hunter. Populations are typically scattered over large expanses of rugged Ozark real estate that includes public and private land. Trying to locate feral hogs in Missouri is like looking for a needle in a haystack.
Private landowners who have feral hogs on their property tend to take care of the problem themselves or enlist the help of USDA/APHIS–Wildlife Services. Some local hunters who live in hog country are having success killing feral hogs because they have a better chance of knowing where the hogs are from day to day. The best chance for non-local hunters is to opportunistically kill hogs while hunting deer or other species of wildlife.
The regulations make it easy for hunters to take hogs when opportunities arise. During most of the year no permit is required to take feral hogs, and any legal hunting method is allowed. There are some restrictions during the firearms deer and turkey seasons. Details of these can be found in the Wildlife Code or at the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Web site.
Feral hogs are bad for Missouri, and they are everyone’s problem. Eradicating feral hogs will be an ongoing process that will require long-term dedication and wide support.
Governor’s Task Force
In the fall of 2007, Governor Blunt formed the Feral Hog Task Force to help elevate awareness of the negative impacts of feral hogs. The task force made the following recommendations.
- A statewide, cooperative effort among various governmental and nongovernmental agencies, private landowners and Missouri citizens is needed to control feral hogs in the state.
- Key members of the public, legislators and the judiciary need to be informed of the consequences of feral hogs so they can make appropriate decisions concerning the animals.
- Current laws and penalties need to be reviewed to evaluate their effectiveness at stopping feral hog releases.
- Public land managers and private landowners need to work cooperatively at eradicating feral hogs from their respective properties.
- Funding sources need to be identified and pursued to support feral hog control efforts.
- Disease monitoring needs to be continued and prompt reporting of feral hogs needs to be encouraged to help eradication efforts. To report feral hogs or to request blood test kits call the Conservation Department at (573) 751-4115, or the USDA at (573) 449-3033.
The Feral Hog Task Force included representatives from a wide variety of resource, agricultural and citizen interests. For more information, visit the task force's Web site.