Feral Hog Control
- Feral hogs are dangerous, destructive pests that must be eradicated in Missouri.
- Feral hogs are not native to Missouri and may be killed in any number at any time.
- Although the Conservation Department discourages hunting specifically for feral hogs in Missouri, hunters afield for other game should shoot feral hogs on sight.
- No permit is needed to kill feral hogs except during deer and turkey seasons; see the annual deer and turkey hunting regulations booklets for details (listed below).
- Report feral hog sightings to either the nearest MDC Regional Office, the State Veterinarian's office (573-751-3377), or USDA Wildlife Services (573-449-3033).
- Releasing hogs is illegal. Report violators to Operation Game Thief (see Related Information below).
- Because the Conservation Department seeks to discourage the hog-hunting culture in Missouri, it will not provide any information about known feral hog presence or location.
What Is A Feral Hog?
A feral hog is defined as any hog, including Russian and European wild boar, that is not conspicuously identified by ear tags or other identification and is roaming freely on public or private land without the land manager’s or landowner’s permission.
Why Are Feral Hogs A Problem?
They spread diseases to people, pets and livestock
Feral hogs are known to carry diseases such as swine brucellosis, pseudorabies, trichinosis and leptospirosis. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control reported that several hunters in the southeastern U.S. contracted Brucella suis infections from field-dressing feral hogs.
They destroy habitat and young wildlife
Just like their domestic cousins, feral hogs spend a lot of time rooting and wallowing, behaviors that contribute to soil erosion, reduce water quality and damage agricultural crops and hay fields, as well as destroy sensitive natural areas such as glades, fens and springs.
Hogs have a keen sense of smell and are opportunistic feeders. They forage heavily on acorns and compete directly with native species, such as deer and turkey, for this important fall food. They also commonly eat the eggs of ground-nesting birds and anything else they encounter, including reptiles, amphibians and small mammals. They also been known to kill and eat deer fawns.
How Did The Problem Arise?
Feral hogs have been roaming some Missouri counties since the days of open range. Local people typically kept these isolated populations in check.
The situation took a wrong turn in the 1990s when hog hunting for recreation began to gain popularity. Groups began raising and promoting European wild boar as a form of alternative agriculture and for hunting on licensed shooting areas. It wasn’t long before many of these hogs escaped or were released intentionally on public land.
Because feral hogs are highly adaptable and prolific breeders, their numbers began growing at an alarming rate, and by 2000, the Conservation Department was receiving damage complaints from private landowners. Today feral hog populations are established in several Missouri counties, and sightings occur across the state.
How Can The Problem Be Fixed?
Eradicating feral hogs is difficult. Populations are small, isolated and typically in remote, rugged terrain, making locating and killing the hogs tricky. Adding to the problem are illegal releases of hogs, even though releasing feral hogs on public land or on private land that is not fenced to contain them is illegal. If you see someone releasing hogs, report them immediately to Operation Game Thief toll-free (check under Related Information below).
Concentrated shooting and trapping efforts by state and federal employees and also private landowners have brought some success. Most hunters do not specifically target feral hogs (in fact, doing so is emphatically discouraged—see below), but opportunities exist for hunters pursuing other game.
In Missouri, feral hogs may be killed in any number throughout the year. During most of the year, no permit is required and any method is allowed. However, restrictions apply during the spring-turkey and fall-firearms deer and turkey seasons (see Hunting Regulations under Related Information below). Resident landowners and lessees on their land are not required to have any permit and may use any method or means to kill feral hogs throughout the year, including during the deer and turkey seasons.
Although the Conservation Department discourages anyone from hunting specifically for feral hogs, hunters afield for other game are encouraged to shoot feral hogs on sight when they are encountered. In this way hunters can help eradicate this dangerous and destructive pest.
Why Is Hunting For Feral Hogs Discouraged?
Although it seems a contradiction, hunters who target feral hogs interfere with efforts to eradicate them. For example, weeks may be spent conditioning a group of hogs to come to a specific location so they can be eliminated in a single control action. If, during that time, a hunter kills one or maybe two of the hogs, the rest of the group moves to a new area, which means that the lengthy and expensive eradication process must begin again at a new location. Because the goal is to eliminate feral hogs, the Conservation Department seeks to discourage the hog hunting culture. If you want to hunt specifically for feral hogs, you should do so in another state, not in Missouri.
Identification and Life Cycle
See Feral Hog under Related Information below.
Feral Hog Sign
Besides seeing a 300-pound boar wallowing in your feedlot, there are a number of signs that indicate the presence of feral hogs.
Feral hogs have been compared to rotary tillers with tails. In pursuit of their favorite foods—roots, acorns and earthworms—hogs root around, plowing the soil to depths of 2 to 8 inches. If several hogs are involved, these rooted areas can stretch over many acres. If you see an area that looks like it has been plowed, chances are feral hogs were the cause.
Feral hogs are formidable and have sometimes attacked humans. But perhaps the greater risk is that of contracting diseases through handling tissues of infected hogs. Swine brucellosis and pseudorabies have both been documented in feral hogs in Missouri, and both can affect humans.
Feral hogs have an excellent sense of smell and hearing, and they typically avoid contact with humans. However, they have occasionally chased hunters and other outdoor recreationists up trees. If you find yourself confronted with an angry pig, the best defense is to climb the nearest tree. If the pig charges, sidestep quickly, taking care to avoid the swing of its tusks, and promptly find a tree to climb.
If you kill a feral hog you may keep the meat or give it to someone else. Wear plastic or rubber gloves when field dressing feral hogs, and bury the offal to prevent the spread of disease. Do not feed raw meat or organs to pets or livestock. As with all pork, cook the meat thoroughly before eating.
The Missouri departments of Agriculture and Conservation both have stringent rules, regulations and requirements regarding feral swine. The complete rules of both departments are contained in the Code of State Regulations (see listings under External Links below).