Feral hogs remain a problem in 38 Missouri counties, mostly south of Interstate 44.

Their herds, known as sounders, can cause widespread crop damage, and individual hogs can grow aggressive, sometimes towards people and animals.

Alan Leary is Wildlife Management Coordinator for the Missouri Department of Conservation. He said the agency is making progress on reducing the feral hog population.

“Since 2016, we had about 459 watersheds we knew feral hogs were occupying in the state, and that was equivalent to about 11.2 million acres,” Leary told Missourinet. “By the end of June of 2023, that had been reduced to about 180 watersheds or about 4.3 million acres.”

He said most feral hogs will try to avoid people, preferring to stick with their family. But if you’re confronted by an aggressive wild hog, back out of the area if possible.

“If it appears as though they’re coming in the direction of the person and there’s a tree nearby that they can get up in — that would be a good option,” Leary said. “You’re not going to be able to outrun them — they can they can go pretty fast.”

Leary said the bigger threat from feral hogs is illness, as they carry more than 30 different diseases, including swine brucellosis. That’s also why Conservation officials strongly urge people to not eat them.

Trapping feral hogs is the most common eradication method, but conservation authorities also shoot them from the air.

“Use of the helicopter can be very effective in some areas where it’s maybe difficult to get at (them) with a vehicle or, you know, very hilly (areas) or situations like that,” Leary said. “Or we may have some hogs that have become kind of trap-shy. They don’t want to go into the traps.”

Leary said they can eliminate a whole sounder of hogs from the air.

Hunting feral hogs is illegal on all public land in Missouri. It’s not illegal on private property but it’s strongly discouraged.

To report one or more wild hogs, you can fill out an online report by clicking this link. You can also call 573-522-4115, extension 3296.

Copyright 2023, Missourinet.