Feral Hog Control

Feral Hogs

Report them on sight

Feral hogs are dangerous, destructive pests that must be eradicated in Missouri.

The Conservation Department discourages hunting specifically for feral hogs in Missouri. The public is encouraged to report feral hog sightings to 573-522-4115, extension 3296. Feral hogs are not native to Missouri and need to be eradicated, anyone who observes a feral hog should report it to the Conservation Department. The Conservation Department will not provide any information about known feral hog presence or location.

Releasing hogs is illegal. Report violators to Operation Game Thief at 800-392-1111.

What is a feral hog?

A feral hog is defined as any hog, including Russian and European wild boar, that is not conspicuously identified by ear tags or other identification and is roaming freely on public or private land without the land manager’s or landowner’s permission.

Why are they a problem?

  • They spread diseases to people, pets and livestock

Feral hogs are known to carry diseases such as swine brucellosis, pseudorabies, trichinosis and leptospirosis. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control reported that several hunters in the southeastern U.S. contracted Brucella suis infections from field-dressing feral hogs.

  • They destroy habitat and young wildlife

Just like their domestic cousins, feral hogs spend a lot of time rooting and wallowing, behaviors that contribute to soil erosion, reduce water quality and damage agricultural crops and hay fields, as well as destroy sensitive natural areas such as glades, fens and springs.

Hogs have a keen sense of smell and are opportunistic feeders. They forage heavily on acorns and compete directly with native species, such as deer and turkey, for this important fall food. They also commonly eat the eggs of ground-nesting birds and anything else they encounter, including reptiles, amphibians and small mammals. They also been known to kill and eat deer fawns.

How did the problem arise?

Feral hogs have been roaming some Missouri counties since the days of open range. Local people typically kept these isolated populations in check.

The situation took a wrong turn in the 1990s when hog hunting for recreation began to gain popularity. Groups began raising and promoting European wild boar as a form of alternative agriculture and for hunting on licensed shooting areas. It wasn't long before many of these hogs escaped or were released intentionally on public land.

Because feral hogs are highly adaptable animals and prolific breeders, their numbers grow at an alarming rate. The Conservation Department has received damage complaints from private landowners since 2000. Today feral hog populations are established in several Missouri counties, and sightings occur across the state.

How can the problem be fixed?

Eradicating feral hogs is difficult, but necessary. Populations are isolated and typically in remote, rugged terrain, making locating and killing the hogs tricky. Adding to the problem are illegal releases of hogs on public land or on private land that is not fenced to contain them. If you see someone releasing hogs, report them immediately to Operation Game Thief at 800-392-1111.

Concentrated shooting and trapping efforts by state and federal employees and private landowner partners have brought success.

Specific rules and regulations exist regarding feral hogs, and proposed regulations changes are currently under consideration. For more information or to report a feral hog sighting, call 573-522-4115 extension 3296.

Feral hog sign

There are a number of signs that indicate the presence of feral hogs. In pursuit of various foods like roots, acorns, and earthworms, hogs root around, plowing the soil to depths of 2 to 8 inches. If several hogs are involved, these rooted areas can stretch over many acres. If you see an area that looks like it has been tilled, chances are feral hogs were the cause.

Dangers to humans

Feral hogs can be aggressive and have been known to attack humans. But perhaps the greater risk is that of contracting diseases through handling tissues of infected hogs. Swine brucellosis and pseudorabies have both been documented in feral hogs in Missouri, and both can affect humans.

Feral hogs have excellent senses of smell and hearing, and they typically avoid contact with humans. However, they have occasionally chased hunters and other outdoor recreationists up trees. If you find yourself confronted with a feral hog, the best defense is to climb the nearest tree. If the pig charges, sidestep quickly, taking care to avoid the swing of its tusks, and promptly find a tree to climb.


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