There were 10,495 fewer feral hogs in Missouri by the end of 2019. But the Missouri Feral Hog Elimination Partnership wants to work with landowners this year to eliminate more of these rogue animals.
The U.S. Forest Service, Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), USDA-APHIS Wildlife Services and the L-A-D Foundation will take part in the trapping efforts to eliminate feral hogs from the state.
Feral hogs are invasive, destructive pests that roam wild in certain areas of Missouri and other states. They’re aggressive animals known to prey on turkey poults, fawns, freshly seeded fields and fully mature crops, as well as other wildlife.
They’re known to carry diseases such as swine brucellosis, pseudorabies and others. The diseases can be transmitted to humans, dogs and domestic pigs.
Today, feral hog populations are established in more than 30 Missouri counties. But the state has a strategic plan in place to remove them, which includes clearing each watershed inhabited by feral hogs one at a time.
“Winter operations will be a large-scale effort where we will scout thousands of acres of public and private lands to pinpoint locations of feral hog sounders, identify areas that do not have feral hogs so we can place the area lower on the priority list, and to trap and dispatch the hogs we find,” says Jason Jensen, MDC’s private land services chief, who represents MDC on the unified command team.
Efforts on private land are only conducted at the landowner’s request and as a partnership with the landowner. Landowners will receive assistance from MDC and USDA employees to trap and remove the feral hogs.
Success of the winter operation will be measured in acres covered by staff, sounders of hogs located, sounders of hogs removed, and number of landowners serviced.
A large majority of Missouri’s land is privately owned, so working together with private landowners is vital to the success of eliminating feral hogs from Missouri, Jensen says. “If you’re a private landowner and feral hogs are tearing up your land, we want to help you,” he adds.
Jensen stressed that complete success will take time. The strategy is to pinpoint the location of a sounder and remove the entire sounder, keep feral hog numbers from increasing in the heart of the population, and stop the spread of feral hogs into new areas.
Technicians will strategically remove feral hogs along the perimeter of the known hog population, shrinking it until the hogs are eliminated.
For security reasons, the partnership is not releasing locations and exact dates of trapping operations.
“We’ve experienced vandalism, theft and interference at trapping sites in the past, so it’s important not to invite that sort of attention to these efforts,” Jensen said.
Jensen said this initial effort will take place from January through March because it’s an optimal time because of limited food supply. However, feral hog elimination work will continue in the summer months, when the feral hogs are known to root up crops.
“Knowing the habits of these invasive animals helps us to adapt our strategy to eliminate them at specific times of the year,” he said. “While we are increasing efforts at this time, we still have staff who are working with landowners to eliminate hogs on their property every day.”