Feral hogs infest Arkansas park: control options weighed

EUREKA SPRINGS, Ark. (AP) – The Eureka Springs Parks and
Recreation Commission is concerned about pigs – not the Razorbacks
of the University of Arkansas athletic programs, but feral hogs
that can ruin crops and pastures.

Feral hogs have been spotted in the city’s 1,600-acre Lake
Leatherwood Park, and parks officials want to get rid of them.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported that, at a meeting last
month, the parks commission discussed a proposal to eradicate the
herd, using people mounted on mules to ferret out the feral hogs
and drive them off the parkland – where they can’t legally be shot
– onto private land where they can be killed by hunters
participating in the hog sweep.

But the commission delayed action, deciding to ask state Game
and Fish Commission officials for advice.

The hogs are not naturally occurring denizens of the Ozarks.
They either are domestic swine that escaped from their owners or
descendants of escaped pigs.

Eureka Springs Parks Director Bruce Levine says he has no idea
how many hogs are in the park.

“If you just have 20 out there, they’re going to multiply
quick,” he said. “They roam from our property to pasturelands
north of the park.”

Feral hogs can destroy pastures and crops quickly while rooting
for food, said Blake Sasse, a biologist with the state wildlife
agency. They also compete with deer and turkey for food, he
said.

“They love acorns and the like,” Sasse said. “If you get a
group of 20 or 30 hogs, they’ll basically vacuum up every bit of
food in a nighttime.”

Sasse said feral hogs are common in almost all 75 Arkansas
counties.

“They have pretty rapidly expanded over the last 20 years,”
Sasse said. “They can have two litters a year, so it doesn’t take
them long to increase population once they get established.”

“In parks, normally hunting isn’t allowed,” Sasse said. “So a
park area is a problem, a little more vulnerable to getting an
overpopulation of deer, or in this case hogs. It’s really hard to
control them up in the Ozarks because the hogs move around a lot
looking for food.”

He said feral hogs can grow to 400 pounds, but most are in the
100- to 150-pound range.

“You definitely don’t want 100- or 150-pound critters walking
through your front yard if you have small children,” said Sasse.
“That’s why we encourage folks to eliminate hogs when they
can.”

In Arkansas, hunting feral hogs is legal on private land
year-round, day or night, without a hunting license, said Game and
Fish Commission spokesman Keith Stephens.

“They’re prolific breeders,” Stephens said. “They’re
destroying the habitat. … We want people to take them out.”

Feral hogs aren’t normally aggressive, but they can attack if
cornered, Sasse said. Levine said he doesn’t know of anyone being
attacked by a feral hog in Lake Leatherwood Park.

“It’s more of the perceived threat,” Levine said. “If you
went online and looked at pictures of these 200- and 300-pound
sows, it’s just frightening.”

Eureka Springs Police Chief Earl Hyatt said the feral-hog
population seems to be increasing around the tourist town.

Carroll County Sheriff Bob Grudek agreed that feral hogs are a
nuisance.

“They really tear up the farmers’ land when they start rooting
around,” Grudek said. “You’re looking at a large animal that can
be very destructive, very threatening.”

 

Categories: News Archive

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *