Saturday, January 28th, 2023
Saturday, January 28th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

DNR urges taking of all wild boars

For second year, the push is on for Ohio deer hunters to shoot
feral pigs on sight.

Athens, Ohio – It may be too late to slam the proverbial barn
door on the spread of destructive wild boars in Ohio, but state
wildlife and agriculture authorities are vowing to try.

For the second consecutive autumn, the DNR Division of Wildlife
is publicly encouraging hunters to shoot all the wild boars they
encounter, this in hopes of limiting the damage these so-called
“eating machines” inflict on other wildlife and wild plant
communities. Agricultural interests further are concerned about the
potential of spreading diseases to domestic stock.

Many other states, including neighboring Michigan, are making
similar overtures to hunters because of the widespread wild pig
woes.

Typically called wild boars, these bristle-coated, tusked
animals also are called feral swine, free-ranging European wild
boar, Russian wild boar, wild pigs, wild hogs, razorbacks, even
piney woods rooters. The wildlife division asserts that they
“damage agricultural crops, degrade wildlife habitat, and consume
ground-nesting bird eggs, reptiles, amphibians, or just about
anything else they come across.”

An average-size boar weighs 180 pounds, but they range from 75
to 400. They feed most heavily at dawn and dusk and spend their
days resting in heavy cover or wallowing in mud holes.

Feral swine can carry diseases that can infect domestic
livestock, wildlife, or even people. They have been reported in
Belmont, Guernsey, Noble, Morgan, Athens, Hocking, Vinton,
Washington, Gallia, Lawrence, Scioto, Butler, Preble, Logan,
Champaign, Auglaize, and Knox counties. The wildlife division’s Web
site, www.wildohio.com, shows
a general location map.

“To me, the population is out of control, not only in Ohio but
in other states” said Dr. Tony Forshey, state veterinarian.

Ohio’s problem with wild boars had been centered in the
southeast forest and hill country, but in recent years these
invasive creatures have spread into western Ohio, into Shelby and
Champaign and surrounding counties.

There, the veterinarian added, “you’re getting into the heart of
Ohio (domestic) swine country.”

Ohio was the first state to eradicate the pseudorabies disease
in swine, and even though domestic stock is confined, having wild
pigs running amok “is still too risky,” Forshey said.

In addition to pseudorabies, feral swine also are known to carry
another stock-threatening disease, brucellosis.

Forshey is urging the wildlife division to follow the lead of
Kansas, which has banned shooting preserves from keeping and
running feral swine.

“They determined them to be an invasive species, which they
are,” he said of Kansas. “Once you ban (wild boar) preserves,
you’ll stop illegal imports.

The veterinarian explained that many states, including Ohio,
have fallen victim not only to purposeful importation of wild boar
to licensed gunning preserves but also to fly-by-night illegal
operations.

But, Forshey also acknowledged that the state agriculture
department can shut down the other end of the pipeline by seeking
legislation, with wildlife endorsement, aimed at banning all
importation of feral swine.

“We’ve talked about it a couple of times,” he said of anti-wild
boar initiatives with the wildlife division. “If it was in mine
(regulation), I’d have done it yesterday. They (wildlife
authorities) will gain my full support on that.”

Dave Risley, the Division of Wildlife’s executive administrator
for wildlife management and research, has no quarrels.

“It’s an issue on which wildlife and agriculture agree 100
percent,” he said.

Risley added that controlling wild boar “is a priority with the
(wildlife division) chief (Dave Graham). It’s a big issue to him.
He’s seen the destruction in other states.”

Graham could not be reached for comment.

Federal wildlife and agriculture authorities, also trying to put
a lid on the boar explosion countrywide, note that in 1988 the
creatures were known in 18 states. Now they have spread to 39
states, with the heaviest concentrations in Texas, California,
Hawaii, and Florida.

Swine initially were introduced in 1539 by Spaniard Hernando de
Soto to North America, where settlers gave them free range.

Later, European wild boar were introduced for sport and target
hunting and ended up crossing and backcrossing with domestic stock
gone wild.

Today’s animals are a combination of genes among escaped or
neglected domestic swine, Eurasian wild boar, and feral swine.

An import ban and stricter control and oversight of hog-shooting
preserves, however, only will stop future introductions and not
eliminate the hogs running rampant in the woods today, authorities
say. Because wild boar are so reclusive and elusive, a census of
their numbers is problematic. But in general it is held that
whatever the population, zero is the goal.

Wild boars have no natural enemies of note in Ohio and they are
possessed of daunting reproductive capability. It will be necessary
to destroy 80 percent of the population every year just to keep
feral hog numbers stable, Forshey said. In comparison 30 to 35
percent of the deer herd must be killed annually to maintain a
stable population.

So, the state appears to be up against a nasty problem. As it
is, wild boar are a declared nuisance and can be taken year-round,
no limits, by licensed hunters. Hunters during deer-gun season,
however, must have a valid deer license and season-legal firearm or
archery tackle to hunt wild boar.

Wild boar is considered excellent table fare if properly
field-dressed and thoroughly cooked. A recommended finished cooking
temperature for wild pork is 155 to 165 degrees.

“We’d like them eliminated from the face of Ohio,” said the
wildlife division’s Risley. He said that the state has 20 to 30
shooting preserves, six of which harbor the wild pigs.

Risley admitted that a good portion of the problem has revolved
around “just a lot of unintentional escapes from game preserves and
the agricultural community.”

But that, in turn, points to lax inspection of, and enforcement
of fencing requirements.

“It’s definitely a concern and it needs to be addressed,” added
Risley.

“We could do a better job of enforcing,” the administrator
added. But he noted, “it’s not necessarily legal operations that
are the problem.”

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