The federal government has closed Mark Twain National Forest to hunters of feral hogs – at the same time, Missouri’s Department of Conservation has launched a new plan in 2020 to try to eliminate feral hog damage by trapping and killing hogs themselves. They are trying to help landowners and farmers who have had property and cropland torn up. The MDC says a social group of ten hogs can destroy 10-20 acres overnight. MDC website
But that approach is not sitting well with some hunters and ranchers who want to hunt the hogs themselves. Dustin Bell is from Summersville, at the edge of the Mark Twain National Forest.
“We think it takes an all-effort, everybody combined, hunters, trappers whatever it takes to control these hogs to prevent them from further damage on our land around for our friends and neighbors and we think that it’s absolutely unrealistic that they can trap all of them out and eradicate the hogs and we think it’s just an overreach of power by MDC,” Bell told Missourinet.
About 150 gathered in a quiet petition signing and protest outside the governor’s office at the state capitol Wednesday, saying the MDC-Federal approach won’t work.
Conservation’s Feral Hog Incident Commander Jason Jensen says letting hunters eradicate the wild hogs did not work.
“We actually encouraged people to hunt feral hogs for several years and that didn’t work,” Jensen said in an interview with Brownfield Ag News. “What we saw during that period of time was that numbers exponentially increased and the range of feral hogs increased. We feel that was mostly due to illegal releases by people who were wanting to hunt feral hogs for that recreational value.”
The department is considering increasing enforcement in some areas so that more of the animals are not released behind MDC staff as they trap hogs.
Bell and the protestors disagree, insisting that hog hunting on public land should not be a crime, but a part of the solution.
“It is our land, taxpayers lands and not MDC’s land. We thoroughly believe that we have the right to ride horses, everything. We should not have to have a permit to ride horses, or hunt hogs or whatever it is.”
The Conservation Department says Missouri has had feral hogs since the 1990’s – and the population has grown. Their trappers disposed of more than 10,000 last year.