Progress made in SEMO against feral hogs

PIEDMONT, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) continues the fight against invasive feral hogs in Missouri. In its Southeast Region, MDC and public- land partners have eradicated 165 hogs from Southeast Missouri (SEMO) public lands in Reynolds, Iron, Wayne, Stoddard and Pemiscot counties. An additional six hogs were reported taken by private landowners.

“We’ve had a large eradication effort which began early this year,” said MDC Wildlife Management Biologist Mark McLain.

McLain’s team trapped, snared, ran dogs, and deployed a helicopter over very dense, rural areas to locate feral hogs early this year.

“We have had four helicopter flights so far this year, at Johnson Shut-In State Park, Sam A. Baker State Park, Mingo National Wildlife Refuge and Black Island Conservation Area,” he said. A total of 47 hogs were eradicated as a result of these flights.

“Populations are still expanding in numbers and into new territories,” McLain said. “We are seeing new populations spring up miles away from established populations and even some on remote private land, suggesting people are still illegally releasing them.”

Releasing feral hogs and hog hunting is illegal, but activities continue in both Southeast and Ozark Regions. Feral hog hunting promotes the release of the hogs and pushes them into new territories, where they are difficult to find and trap. Well-intentioned "hog hunters" typically are unsuccessful or may remove only one or two hogs in multiple attempts. The hunters' presence and activities may actually cause feral hogs to leave an area, which can disrupt many weeks of baiting and trapping efforts by MDC staff.

“Unfortunately, our traps continue to be found and interrupted by hunters a couple weeks after we set them in Reynolds and Iron Counties, leaving us with limited success in those areas,” McLain said. “We really hope these hog hunters will realize they do more harm than good and help us instead by reporting hogs or hog sign.”

A feral hog is defined by Missouri statute as any hog that is not conspicuously marked by ear tags or notches and that is roaming on public or private land. Feral hogs can carry as many as thirty-two diseases, many of which can cross over into other animals including domestic livestock, according to the MDC. Some of the diseases carried by hogs can even infect humans, such as Brucella suis, which can be contracted when field-dressing feral hogs.

Feral hogs damage agricultural crops and lands through their direct feeding and rooting behavior and damage natural resources such as woods ponds, springs, and streams by their wallowing behaviors. This also produces soil erosion and water quality concerns, according to the MDC. They compete directly with wildlife species for food resources, like acorns, and they eat any amphibian or reptile they encounter.

McLain said anonymous reports of hog releasing activities can be made through the Operation Game Thief Hotline, 1 (800) 392-1111. For more information on the fight against feral hogs in Missouri go online to mdc.mo.gov or call the MDC's Southeast Regional Office at (573)290-5730.

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