Friday, November 04, 2016
Billy Long: Hogs can do incredible damage
On the 14th of October I had the opportunity to tour property damage caused by feral hogs in Walnut Shade, Missouri. The property I toured was owned by a family who wanted me to see firsthand the damage hogs had caused to their fields and discuss the current feral hog activity still occurring on their land.
A feral hog is any type of hog that does not have ear tag identification and roams on private or public land without permission.
These hogs are a problem not only because they are destructive to land, but because they cause soil erosion, reduce water quality and damage agriculture crops and hay fields. These hogs are also known to spread diseases not just to animals and livestock, but to humans as well.
According to the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), feral hogs are very destructive to many of Missouri's species of native wildlife. So much so, that the Missouri Conservation Commission approved changes to the Wildlife Code of Missouri that would prevent hunting of feral hogs on MDC owned land. This change to the code went into effect as of September 30.
Most people would think that putting a ban on hunting feral hogs would actually increase the number of feral hogs, but that is not the case. The Kansas City Star this summer reported that the MDC says that hunters make it more challenging to kill feral hogs.
According to the report, the MDC tries to attract feral hogs by using cracked corn to guide them to trapping areas. When hunters figure out the trap locations, they will go to them, shoot a hog or two and then cause all the feral hogs to scatter. These traps have required a lot of hard work by the MDC to set up. When hunters go to them and hunt, it causes the hog population to scatter to different areas requiring them to start all over again.
These traps, which are different depending on the location, are usually either a cage or a fence held up by rods. The best type of trap, which can catch 10-30 at a time, is suspended in the air at about five to six feet and can be dropped by simply using a cellphone. I think it’s important to know an agent can be at a football game for their kids and get a text on their cell phone, look at a live picture of the trap and what is in it and then activate the trap from the football game and drop it on the hogs. This type of trap allows the agent to monitor the trap at any given time and make sure that they are actually catching hogs and not deer or turkey.
However, these traps are more expensive and since it relies on cell phone service for the trap, they are limited on where they can use it.
Also, hunters are known to illegally catch feral hogs and move them around the state.
According to Bill White, MDC Private Land Service Division Chief, once these hogs are caught using different traps, the MDC draws their blood to have it tested for numerous diseases, two of the most concerning diseases being swine brucellosis and pseudorabies. These diseases can be passed on to livestock and have serious implications on that particular industry. Once the results come back, they report it to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Inspection Service and the Missouri Department of Agriculture.
The MDC would like individuals to stop hunting feral hogs and let them know when they have spotted them. This allows for the MDC to have a better idea of the number of feral hogs, where they are and how to best capture them.
As a Congressman, I ask all Missourians, not just those of southwest Missouri, to take the time to listen to the MDC. The amount of damage these hogs can do is devastating. By following the MDC's hunting ban, we can do our part to limit this damage.