MICHAEL A. SAWYERS | Cumberland Times-News
CUMBERLAND, Md. (AP) — Shoot 'em.
That's what Jonathan McKnight of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources says hunters should do if they encounter a wild hog in the woods or fields.
On the Outdoors page of Dec. 22, the Cumberland Times-News ran the photo of Ron Cappadocia and the 200- to 300-pound wild hog the Flintstone-area resident killed along Terrapin Run in eastern Allegany County.
McKnight, an associate director with responsibility for habitat conservation, said hunters are the first line of defense in keeping wild hogs out of the state.
"Hogs can devastate a landscape," McKnight said. "They root through the vegetation and eat like pigs, leaving bare dirt and basically crushing the habitat for native animals, including white-tailed deer."
The hog shot by Cappadocia is not the first dead wild pig to show up in the state, according to McKnight. There were two road kills a few years back, he said. Those were in western Maryland just south of Bedford and Somerset counties in Pennsylvania.
McKnight believes that the hogs killed on Maryland roads originated in the Keystone State.
"Wild hogs are established in those two Pennsylvania counties," McKnight said. "There is an ongoing control program there and I know that they have used both hunting seasons and sharpshooting techniques."
A pig is a pig is a pig, according to McKnight, and that's not good because that facilitates breeding and reproduction.
Dealing with pigs is a touchy proposition for DNR, according to McKnight, because they are not wildlife, they are livestock.
And, while he wants hunters to shoot wild hogs, McKnight wants them to use some common sense.
"If they see a pig wearing a tag that says 'Fluffy' along the edge of a neighbor's yard, they'll be breaking the law if they kill it because it's not illegal to have a pet pig."
If a hunter is on his own land or on land where he has permission to hunt and knows that a pig isn't supposed to be there, then 150 grains of lead moving at 2,600 feet per second or so should be directed its way.
"This doesn't mean that if the neighbor's pigs break out of a fence for an afternoon that a person should shoot them all and put them in his freezer," McKnight said.
Cappadocia made good use of his hog, taking it right away to the butcher for processing.
Once feral or wild hogs become established in a habitat, they are very difficult to eradicate, according to McKnight.
"We hope hunters will work with DNR so that hogs never get established in Maryland," he said.
Information from: Cumberland (Md.) Times-News, www.times-news.com