Feral hog population becoming issue

Published 7:00 am Saturday, March 15, 2014

On Monday, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries conducted an aerial feral hog control hunt at the Pearl River Wildlife Management Area. The department utilized helicopters to conduct the hunt in hopes of controlling the population numbers.

In recent years, feral hogs have become a nuisance for Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.

In Mississippi, hunting of feral hogs by the public has been allowed to hunt feral hogs if a resident has an All-Game Hunting License, Sportsman License or Lifetime License. Feral hog hunting is legal so long as it is conducted on public land during deer archery season until the last day of February and spring turkey season. This is allowed in order to control the population of the invasive species.

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Harvey Miller, a local feral hog hunter, said the feral hog population has reached epidemic proportions over the years.

The hogs are destructive to property and consume commercial crops, nesting birds, reptiles, turkey and quail eggs. Loss of the eggs affects the turkey and quail population, Miller said.

He said another problem feral hogs cause is the build up of waste in waterways, especially water that cattle, deer and other animals drink.

Miller said in years past a person may only see feral hogs in rural parts of the state, but recently the hogs have been spotted near Picayune city limits along Boley Creek.

“If you’re not making a dent in the population, some type of method has to be implemented to control the population,” Miller said.

Christian Winslow, a biologist with the Pearl River WMA, said feral hogs can be hunted on WMA property “during any legal hunting season by properly licensed or permitted hunters bearing a license and legal gear.”

The L.D.W.F. is also accepting applications for an experimental spring and summer feral hog trapping season at the Pearl River WMA as another way to help control the population.

According to a press release from L.D.W.F., the season will run from May 1-Aug. 31 and applications are being accepted until April 14.

For more information and application for the trapping season, hunters can visit http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/hunting/lottery-hunts.

According to the Mississippi State University Center for Resolving Human-Wildlife Conflicts website’s information on the feral hogs, Spanish Explorer Hernando DeSoto first introduced pigs to America in the 1500s and they can now be found in at least 45 states.

The Center for Resolving Human-Wildlife Conflicts website states feral pigs reproduce rapidly and easily adapt to any climate, which has helped them have such a widespread population. Annually, the pigs cause about $1.5 billion in damage to agriculture and the environment in the United States.