USDA Looks At Hog Control On A National Level?
February 2, 2015
According to this (decidedly short on detail) article from High Plains Public radio, the USDA is talking about a need to manage feral hogs from a federal level, in order to mitigate the potential for large-scale impacts.
Lee (Charlie Lee, wildlife manager from Kansas State University Research and Extension) went on to say, “unless steps are taken, we could have a major train wreck because of the disease threats that feral hogs pose to our domestic swine operations, and the ecological damage will continue.”
The short piece mentioned that the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is looking into possible solutions, which include sport hunting. I’m glad to see sport hunters included in the consideration.
Personally, I have mixed feelings about a national-level program to manage feral hogs.
On the one hand, it might alleviate some of the disparity in how different states treat the animals. Consider, for example, that Texas basically considers them vermin and allows eradication tactics commensurate with that designation. Dogs, knives, bows, or BB guns… just kill ’em all! While hog hunting is a growing industry on Texas hunting ranches, residents of the Lone Star State are encouraged to treat hogs like rats, and kill or trap them at every opportunity. In many cases, hogs are shot on sight, and left to rot in the field… which sounds like a shame, until you understand just how many hogs there are. You can only eat so many, and unlike venison, food banks can’t accept feral swine.
Compare that to California’s approach of designating feral hogs as a “game animal,” requiring expensive tags and restricted methods of take. Many hog hunters in CA limit themselves to one or two tags per year, and with the costs of hunting hogs on private property climbing steadily, the impact of sport hunters on the feral hog population is marginal. And while depredation permits are fairly easy to get, many landowners recognize a cash value to keeping a population of hogs on their land, in order to attract paying hunters.
But the truth is, neither state seems to be making much headway in reducing or managing the spread of feral hogs. According to most experts, once you have an established population of feral hogs, you need to kill about 70% of that population annually in order to just maintain stasis. Otherwise, the best you can hope for is to move them around… temporarily drive them out of targeted areas with hunting and trapping pressure.
Maybe a consistent, nationwide approach, led by the USDA is the answer?
What could possibly go wrong?