The Missouri Department of Conservation is banning feral hog hunting on public land as part of its effort to eradicate them. Wildlife Division Chief Jason Sumners says the animals can damage property, carry diseases that could spread to livestock and compete for food with wildlife. He says hunting wild pigs cause them to scatter, making it challenging to trap large herds.
“Most of our populations are relatively isolated in small pockets. Now, there may be thousands of pigs in some of those populations, but they are certainly not spread across the state at this point in time,” said Sumners. “Feral hogs haven’t been an issue in Missouri until the mid-1990s. At that time, folks started introducing them primarily onto public land in the eastern Ozarks and the population slowly began to grow. The ability to hunt, the interest in hunting them created some additional incentive for folks to release hogs. The incentive to hunt hogs has resulted in illegal dumping and transporting of hogs onto the landscape.”
Sumners says the population has also been growing in west-central and southwest Missouri.
He says the Missouri Department of Conservation partners with other agencies in trapping efforts, including the Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, USDA Wildlife Services and numerous private landowners.
“We’re kind of at a point where we believe we have an opportunity to effectively eliminate them from Missouri. If we were to wait a number of years before instituting some pretty dramatic measures, then we may lose that opportunity. We are on the cusp of being able to do something important here,” said Sumners.
He says the biggest costs associated with trapping is staff time and baiting the traps.
State Representative Robert Ross (R-Yukon) says the ban is counterproductive to the goal of eliminating feral hogs. He says wild pigs are a nuisance to the agriculture community and sportsmen alike.
“The actions that they are taking in trying to ban feral hog hunting of private individuals from assisting in eliminating the feral hog problem is really frustrating,” said Ross. “They came at this from the angle that government knows best and they’re basically dismissing a lot of these local individuals who are working to keep this population under control.”
Although Ross says he’s frustrated with the ban, he doesn’t know if he’ll propose legislation in response to it.
“How much has the Conservation Department spent on some of these different things? Whereas, by comparing that to the number of hogs that several private individuals have been able to take out of this population that didn’t cost the taxpayers a dime. I think it’s short sighted.”
The ban begins September 30. Violators could be fined and lose hunting privileges.