Feral hogs are one of the worst problems for landowners, hunters and the state and federal agencies tasked with dealing with them.
Hogs are fun to hunt and anyone who’s ever done it probably would agree. They’re mean, whip-smart and whether you’re in a stand, stalking them on foot or pursuing with hounds, it’s a blast. Plus, they’re good to eat when, at least in my opinion, they’re smaller. As the social media folks like to say, “Mmmm, bacon.”
But taking out a few here and there if you’re a landowner or have a hunting lease, or are hunting on public land, doesn’t really put a dent into the population. Hogs migrate to the best available food and water sources. If they don’t have any pressure, too, that only helps them feel more comfortable. Popping a few during deer season is cool but it’s like taking out one coyote; more are out there to fill the void.
Hogs arrived in the 1500s with the European explorers. Since then, they’ve moved throughout the Southeast and into some other parts of the country. Missouri is dealing with them now. Pockets of smaller populations are known to exist in other states; left alone, they’ll continue to increase in number and spread.
States deal with them in different ways. Alabama created a group to study the problem and see what could be done. On the Lowndes WMA, where they had become heavily populated, intensive trapping along with hunting seasons helped knock down the numbers. Several states allow hog hunting at night with land-specific permits or with use of bait. Texas and Alabama officials are considering using sodium nitrate as a control measure, too.
Arkansas puts the hammer on hogs
Feral hogs have become a serious issue in Arkansas. The first week of March, teams with the Arkansas and Tennessee/Kentucky U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Wildlife Services, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Missouri Department of Conservation, got busy killing hogs on private and public land.
Four state wildlife management areas — Trusten Holder, Cut-off Creek, Choctaw Island and Big Lake — were briefly closed to the public. The teams attacked the problem with helocopter surveys on the WMAs and adjoining private lands.
When the four-day project ended, 615 hogs had been eliminated. While the total number of hogs in Arkansas and the affected areas is indeterminable, taking out that many surely will help in some way. Arkansas officials are continuing to monitor the situation and likely will conduct more aerial projects in the future.
Here’s how the numbers stacked up:
Big Lake WMA – 78
Trusten Holder WMA – 37
Cut-Off Creek WMA – 226
Choctaw Island WMA – 87
Southeast Arkansas Private Land – 187