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Is Eradication The Best Feral Hog Management Option?

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March 08, 2012
Is Eradication The Best Feral Hog Management Option? - 12

For years, wildlife biologists south of Kentucky and west of Arkansas have talked about managing populations of feral hogs. Now the discussion has turned to eradication. And strategy sessions are tinged with a pessimistic sense of desperation.

America has a hog problem. It’s been growing since 1539, when Hernando De Soto’s conquistadors brought the first swine to the continent. In the nearly 500 years since, domestic pigs have provided nourishment for settlers, while escapees offered sporting opportunities for hunters looking for alternatives to deer or birds.

The problem is that feral pigs resist management, and they raise hell with agriculture, costing some $1.5 billion nationally every year. Somewhere between 4 million and 6 million wild hogs are rooting and wallowing their way across the U.S., from Georgia to Texas and California. Opportunistic hogs have had an impact on everything from turkey populations in the Midwest to endangered sea turtles along the Atlantic coast. A decade-old study conducted in Texas suggested that nearly 25 percent of quail nests suffered hog depredation.

SWINE STOPPERS
Even professional pig exterminators say that getting a handle on our exploding hog herd will be difficult. Rod Pinkston of Georgia’s Jager Pro Hog Control Systems traps sounders during winter months and then guides night-vision hunters to survivors through the summer and fall.

Pinkston’s clients often stack up double-digit pig numbers in a single night.

It’s unlikely that conventional techniques will be able to control hogs. Here’s a look at the options:

#1 - Recreational Hunting: Even with dogs, traditional hog hunting is a losing strategy for controlling prolific, intelligent pigs that run in multi-generational groups. Taking one or two pigs does nothing but educate the remaining animals and turn them nocturnal.

#2 - Night Vision: More efficient than daytime hunting, night vision offers groups of gunners the chance to wipe out several hogs with a single volley. But gear is expensive, and many states don’t allow night-vision hunting.

#3 - Trapping: Traps can catch an entire sounder at once during the winter, when a lack of food sources concentrates hogs.

#4 - Aerial Gunning: Pinkston’s advice to states just entering the pig war is to make hog hunting illegal (removing incentives for people to trap and relocate the animals) and then hire a helicopter equipped with shooters to wipe out the population before it takes hold and spreads.

Comments (12)

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from Buckshott00 wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

Here in MI anyone with a valid hunting license or a CPL can take one on public grounds, but it is illegal to go out with the intent to hunt them. Weird right? Private Land owners get all the fun and can take them all they want anyway they want.

I agree with cjohnsrud put a bounty on them, make them turn in a head and tail

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from featherfisher wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

Many of the same ranchers and farmers that are decrying how much hogs are destroying their livelihood- will charge hunters big bucks to kill them- they claim to recoup losses created by the hogs HUH? somewhat a veiled cash cow the way I see it- You charge for access you lose your case- this would be a great National Guard Project- issue Winchester Ammo's new Razor Back in 5.56 (.223) or 7.62 (.308) and make it a body count live fire exercise- culminated by a big ass community barbeque nuff said

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dialysis33 wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

Biological and chemical won't cut it with this species, I am inlined to agree with the others that having an open season should reduce the numbers. They are introduced by people who think it would be good game to have around but like every other species that isn't indigenous to the regions they rapidly adapt to the surroundings and then explode. The iguanas did the same thing in Florida and now they have multiple issues to deal with. Trapping and shooting would be the best recourse for irradication. For the moment it appears to be the only solution. Introducing a biological organism and using chemicals can have severe reprocussions on the ecology of our enviornment let's think clearly and concisely.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from land_cruiser_73 wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

Idaho had a few near Kamiah back around 2002. The fish and game put out a plea for hunters to help get rid of them. Between the rednecks and the wolves, I think they got them all. I haven't heard of any sightings since then, although in recent years there are rumors of pigs in Southern Idaho.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from charlie elk wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

We had a few transplanted from TX into WI. That fellow is now in prison. To the WDNR's credit they encouraged everyone and anyone to shoot hogs on sight and as many as they could.
In other words Wisconsinites jointly huffed and puffed, blew all their houses down and had some fine barbeques.
later,
charlie

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bob Hansen wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

Hi...

They have to be eradicated to stop the severe damage they are doing. Hunters should be encouraged to do so.

Methods other than hunting should also be encouraged.

Also, I think that some type of bounty system should be utilized. This, hopefully, would cost less then the damage caused if they continue to proliferate as they do.

Do you realize that they are even in New York State? How much longer before they overrun YOUR state...(if they haven't already)?

Perhaps a market for the hides could be encouraged, also.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from pineywoods wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

This is one case where I think biological and/or chemical warfare should be considered. If there were some disease that could be introduced to a feral population it would be beneficial. I know they are carriers of brucellocis (sp?) but it doesn't seem to affect the hogs themselves. I am afraid, though, that it will be like trying to get rid of rats---we may knock the population down, but we'll never be completely rid of them. In the meantime, I'll shoot every one I can, and if I can get those Powerball numbers right, I'll gear up for some serious night hunting and maybe hire my own helicopter.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Andrew Williams wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

Declare them as varmints with an open limit. Then also allow hunting for them 24-7 and see how that works. Wild hogs carry disease and pose a physical danger as well. Everything possible needs to be done to remove this animal from the wilds of North America and Hawaii as well.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from SLM wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

Unfortunately, wild hogs have a history of being deliberately introduced by folks who like to hunt them. It's is one of the major reasons why they've spread so far north in recent decades. Preventing this is at least partly why some states have made hog hunting illegal. That and the fact that hunting doesn't make much of an impact on their numbers unless you really set out to exterminate the whole group, which isn't how most of us deer hunters think about things.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from dragemhome wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

Making hog hunting illegal would do nothing for the problem. Arial hunting would only serve to make them wiser as does the hunting in the daytime. i have to agree that putting a bounty on them would get more people out but it may create a problem in some of the states with more prolific hog problems. No i don't have a solution but i do enjoy hunting them and also eating them. Maybe if the hunters could sell some of the meat or even donate it to shelters and the like it would help.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from cjohnsrud wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

Do any states have a bounty on Feral hogs? That would bring a lot people out if there was money involved.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from DSMbirddog wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

I don't have a problem with any/all of the above. I do disagree with making hunting hogs illegal. That will not stop the trapping and relocating of hogs in my opinion.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment (200 characters or less)

from dragemhome wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

Making hog hunting illegal would do nothing for the problem. Arial hunting would only serve to make them wiser as does the hunting in the daytime. i have to agree that putting a bounty on them would get more people out but it may create a problem in some of the states with more prolific hog problems. No i don't have a solution but i do enjoy hunting them and also eating them. Maybe if the hunters could sell some of the meat or even donate it to shelters and the like it would help.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bob Hansen wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

Hi...

They have to be eradicated to stop the severe damage they are doing. Hunters should be encouraged to do so.

Methods other than hunting should also be encouraged.

Also, I think that some type of bounty system should be utilized. This, hopefully, would cost less then the damage caused if they continue to proliferate as they do.

Do you realize that they are even in New York State? How much longer before they overrun YOUR state...(if they haven't already)?

Perhaps a market for the hides could be encouraged, also.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Andrew Williams wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

Declare them as varmints with an open limit. Then also allow hunting for them 24-7 and see how that works. Wild hogs carry disease and pose a physical danger as well. Everything possible needs to be done to remove this animal from the wilds of North America and Hawaii as well.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from pineywoods wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

This is one case where I think biological and/or chemical warfare should be considered. If there were some disease that could be introduced to a feral population it would be beneficial. I know they are carriers of brucellocis (sp?) but it doesn't seem to affect the hogs themselves. I am afraid, though, that it will be like trying to get rid of rats---we may knock the population down, but we'll never be completely rid of them. In the meantime, I'll shoot every one I can, and if I can get those Powerball numbers right, I'll gear up for some serious night hunting and maybe hire my own helicopter.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from cjohnsrud wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

Do any states have a bounty on Feral hogs? That would bring a lot people out if there was money involved.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from charlie elk wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

We had a few transplanted from TX into WI. That fellow is now in prison. To the WDNR's credit they encouraged everyone and anyone to shoot hogs on sight and as many as they could.
In other words Wisconsinites jointly huffed and puffed, blew all their houses down and had some fine barbeques.
later,
charlie

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from featherfisher wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

Many of the same ranchers and farmers that are decrying how much hogs are destroying their livelihood- will charge hunters big bucks to kill them- they claim to recoup losses created by the hogs HUH? somewhat a veiled cash cow the way I see it- You charge for access you lose your case- this would be a great National Guard Project- issue Winchester Ammo's new Razor Back in 5.56 (.223) or 7.62 (.308) and make it a body count live fire exercise- culminated by a big ass community barbeque nuff said

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from DSMbirddog wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

I don't have a problem with any/all of the above. I do disagree with making hunting hogs illegal. That will not stop the trapping and relocating of hogs in my opinion.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from land_cruiser_73 wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

Idaho had a few near Kamiah back around 2002. The fish and game put out a plea for hunters to help get rid of them. Between the rednecks and the wolves, I think they got them all. I haven't heard of any sightings since then, although in recent years there are rumors of pigs in Southern Idaho.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dialysis33 wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

Biological and chemical won't cut it with this species, I am inlined to agree with the others that having an open season should reduce the numbers. They are introduced by people who think it would be good game to have around but like every other species that isn't indigenous to the regions they rapidly adapt to the surroundings and then explode. The iguanas did the same thing in Florida and now they have multiple issues to deal with. Trapping and shooting would be the best recourse for irradication. For the moment it appears to be the only solution. Introducing a biological organism and using chemicals can have severe reprocussions on the ecology of our enviornment let's think clearly and concisely.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Buckshott00 wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

Here in MI anyone with a valid hunting license or a CPL can take one on public grounds, but it is illegal to go out with the intent to hunt them. Weird right? Private Land owners get all the fun and can take them all they want anyway they want.

I agree with cjohnsrud put a bounty on them, make them turn in a head and tail

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from SLM wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

Unfortunately, wild hogs have a history of being deliberately introduced by folks who like to hunt them. It's is one of the major reasons why they've spread so far north in recent decades. Preventing this is at least partly why some states have made hog hunting illegal. That and the fact that hunting doesn't make much of an impact on their numbers unless you really set out to exterminate the whole group, which isn't how most of us deer hunters think about things.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment (200 characters or less)

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