CLEVELAND, Tenn. (AP) — State officials plan to meet with county leaders to address restrictions on hog hunting.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency representatives will meet with local officials to discuss a request to loosen the hunting regulations.

At least five East Tennessee counties have approved resolutions asking the state to restart a "dedicated season" for hunting feral hogs in wildlife management areas and to allow property owners to use dogs to hunt the animals on private property.

The counties that have passed the resolutions include Polk, Monroe, White, McMinn and Bradley.

While leaders may disagree about how to deal with the problem, they all acknowledge that feral hogs are abundant in the state and that they cause extensive damage to agriculture and the environment.

"(Wild) hogs cause $1.5 billion in damage each year to agriculture and the environment in the United States — and that's a very conservative estimate," stated a Mississippi State University feral hog study that was cited in a number of the county resolutions.

"In order to remove the incentive to relocate wild hogs, they are now considered a destructive species to be controlled by methods other than sport hunting," according to TWRA regulations on the state government website.

Wild hogs were removed from the state's big-game category in 2011.

According to Mississippi State University's "Wild Pig Info" website, trapping is preferred in most circumstances to hunting.

"Though trapping is most efficient means of removing pigs from an area, dog hunting is the effective means of removing trap-shy or 'educated' pigs that have altered their activity patterns based on previous experience with traps," the website states.


Information from: Chattanooga Times Free Press,