CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) continues to work with legislators, community groups, partner agencies and landowners to grow awareness about and eradicate feral hogs from the landscape. MDC has learned from other states, and through trends in Missouri, that hunting does not help to eradicate hogs and results in expanding populations. Feral hog eradication efforts have increased this year through trapping and citizens are asked to report feral hog sightings or damage as soon as possible.
"Feral hogs destroy habitat, eat wildlife, compete with native animals for food, degrade our water quality and spread disease," explained Matt Bowyer, MDC's wildlife regional supervisor for the southeast region. "We ask Missourians to partner with the Department to ensure we reduce that destruction by reporting all sightings of feral hogs so we can work together to remove the threat."
Reynolds County landowner Don Kory and his family have trapped more than 190 feral hogs on their property with the help of MDC and the USDA. Kory said landowners who haven't yet experienced feral hogs on their property sometimes don't understand the damage the animals cause. But after years of trapping and responding to the wreckage they leave behind, he knows the situation all too well.
"It seems many people think it would just be great fun to have 'wild boars' on your property to hunt," he said. "But if you are a landowner and enjoy your land the way it is, I say be happy if you never see a feral pig."
If MDC had their way, landowners wouldn't see feral hogs. Bowyer said to make ground in the feral hog fight, the Department needs people to stop hunting hogs and start reporting them. Other states, such as Tennessee, Michigan and Kansas, have experienced success by trapping hogs and discouraging people from hunting them.
"Feral hogs are highly adaptable and easily avoid trapping efforts when hunters encroach into their occupied area," explained Bowyer. "We're learning from other states that hog-hunting actually increases the spread of populations by pushing them into new territories and making their movements less predictable."
After all the firsthand experience trapping hogs on his own land, Kory said he knows the damage hog hunting does to trapping efforts.
"Any disturbance from hunters causes the hogs to move miles away," Kory said. "If you shoot one, the whole herd runs away to the neighbor's
property or somewhere else. Then trapping efforts are foiled."
Kory added the hogs will soon return and then be trap wary and much more difficult to catch.
However, if individuals are afield during a prescribed hunting season and are in possession of the proper permits, such as an unfilled deer or fall turkey hunting permit, the incidental take of feral hogs is allowed. Although the Department prefers all sightings of feral hogs on public and private land be reported, landowners have the right to protect their property from harm by shooting the invasive hogs.
Bowyer asks anyone who is afield for other game and encounters a feral hog to call in a report to 573-522-4115 ext. 3296. Those who witness illegal release of hogs should immediately contact their local conservation agent or report it to Operation Game Thief at 1-800-392-1111. For more information about feral hog eradication efforts go online to mdc.mo.gov.