Hunting Not the Answer for Feral Hogs

feral hogs
Research has proven trapping is the best way to eliminate feral hog populations. Photo by Brandon Bulter.

Feral hogs are more of a problem in Indiana than you may realize. Present in numerous southern counties, their destructive nature hurts our state scientifically and economically. Leaders from federal and state agencies recognize the problem and are working together to eradicate feral hogs. However, they can’t solve this problem without the support of citizens.

Like most wildlife issues, humans are to blame for our feral hog problem.

Parker Hall, an Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service scientist with the USDA, said, “Gooseneck trailers are one of the biggest problems we face with feral hogs.”

What Hall means is, people are using trailers to haul hogs to other parts of the state where they release them to create populations for hunting. The people doing this either don’t understand the destructive nature of feral hogs, or simply don’t care. Either way, it’s illegal and must be discouraged.

We don’t want a feral hog population in Indiana. We need to wipe out the feral hogs that are already here, but hunting is not the answer to eliminating them. In fact, research has proven that hunting hogs actually increases their numbers. Now I know that may leave a few of you scratching your heads, but you have to understand the problem. Hogs are elusive, they multiply rapidly and they roam large areas.

Trapping is the best way to significantly impact hog populations, but it takes time and a lot of work. First, the large, corral style traps must be built. Then they must be consistently baited for several days or weeks to attract the targeted group of hogs. You want to catch as many hogs as possible at once. It takes weeks to build the trust of the entire group at a bait site. If a hunter comes in there and disrupts the hogs just once, the whole set may be blown.

It takes weeks of work to trap hogs when everything goes right. But if hunters chase hogs or disrupt a bait site, then they’ll scatter and move to new areas. As a result, trapping efforts have been wasted and feral hogs have expanded into new areas.

Hunting is a huge part of my life. I work everyday to support the rights of hunters and the privilege of hunting. So it’s against my nature to say hunting isn’t the answer to solving an unwanted wildlife population, but in this situation, hunting is not the answer. Trapping is the right thing to do for our landscape, native wildlife species and agricultural operations.

Although there is already a small contingent of hog hunters in Indiana, we do not want a widespread culture of hog hunting to be established, because if there is a culture of hog hunting, those hunters will want hogs on the landscape. A desire for hogs impedes the need to completely eradicate them from the state.

Feral hogs cause over $1 billion dollars a year in damage across North America, including $800 million in damage to farms. Hogs are voracious eaters and can decimate an agricultural field overnight. They also hurt populations of native wildlife, like deer and turkeys, by competing for food. Hogs consume acorns and other critical food sources for deer and wildlife species. Hunters and wildlife enthusiasts should want hogs eradicated from our landscape. Trapping is the bwSAzSWQAest way to make this happen.

Brandon Butler
Long-time outdoor writer and native Hoosier Brandon Butler lives in Missouri and serves as the Executive Director of the Conservation Federation of Missouri. Previously, he worked with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources as Governor Mitch Daniels’ liaison to the department, Director of Sales and Marketing for Dominator365 and as the Marketing Manager Battenfeld Technologies, Inc.

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