Listening, team work needed to battle feral hogs

Friday, February 14, 2020

Southern Missouri has a feral hog problem.

Since the mid 1990s, when a few individuals thought it would be nice to offer guided pig hunts and turned some loose on the landscape, feral hogs have been popping up in places they’ve never been seen before.

Today, DNA evidence shows feral hogs are still being transported and released illegally, and the population has skyrocketed.

Feral hogs are prolific breeders, and a single female can produce two litters of six or seven piglets each year.

Without outside control of their numbers, the hogs can quickly overrun an area while destroying fields and crops and competing with native wildlife for available food.

Unfortunately, in Missouri, it seems there are two groups battling each other in the war on feral hogs. They both hope to reduce hog numbers, but have different mindsets on how that goal can be accomplished.

Biologists from the state’s Department of Conservation (and nearly every other state with a hog problem) and U.S. Department of Agriculture say trapping is the most effective way of removing hogs because entire sounders, or family groups, of the pigs can be taken in one fell swoop.

Other methods government officials use to remove hogs include periodic helicopter gunning and, on rare occasions, selective shooting, usually when only males remain in an area.

Hunting of the hogs, biologists say, only takes small numbers from the landscape and spreads out the remainder, making it hard to trap them effectively. As such, many public lands have been closed to the killing of hogs.

That hasn’t sat well with the other side of the battle, a growing contingent of residents, who want to hunt feral hogs using dogs, by horseback, baiting them to an area or through other means. They feel they can be more effective in controlling hog numbers.

Vocal hunters say MDC cannot possibly have enough manpower to deal with the problem, and they don’t trap during the spring and fall hunting seasons, leaving four-plus months of the year without any management efforts.

Besides that, they say, the USDA’s periodic helicopter eradication flights aren’t very effective and spread the hogs around, just like the other side says hunting does. On top of that, hunters argue hog carcasses should be utilized instead of being left to rot.

There’s a lot of information being tossed around by both sides, with dedicated websites and Facebook groups run by government agencies, trained biologists, internet-trained armchair biologists and hunters’ groups.

Some information is accurate, some is hearsay and some is outright lies.

The growing friction even has resulted in slashed tires and physical threats to MDC and USDA vehicles and staff and legislative efforts to put a stranglehold on the Department of Conservation.

Here’s the thing - refusing to listen to other views because you “know better” than anyone else or threatening people because you can’t have your way are both incredibly self-centered.

This kind of nonsense simply has to stop.

Both sides need to listen to the other and work together to eliminate the problem before it’s too late. Both have valid points and generally want the same end goal.

With that, there’s no reason for the “my way or the highway” mentality from either side.

— Daily American


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