Stepped-up efforts helping Missouri eradicate feral hogs

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Efforts to eradicate feral hogs from Missouri are improving, thanks to better techniques, more resources and the use of aerial hunting, a state wildlife official said.

The Missouri Department of Conservation, partner agencies and private landowners have combined to trap and kill 2,332 feral hogs in the first three months of this year, almost half the total of 5,358 feral hogs captured in all of 2016, The Columbia Missourian reported.

The success is the result of more people who are becoming more efficient, as well as new technology and different traps, said Wildlife Management Coordinator Alan Leary.

Wildlife experts say the hogs damage property, crops, streams and lakes and are a danger to other species. The conservation department last year banned hunting them on all lands owned, managed or leased by the department, contending that its trapping and killing efforts would be more successful without interference from individual hunters.

The agency has begun using corral traps suspended 3 to 4 feet off the ground rather than placing open enclosure on the grounds. The ground enclosures often caught only a few of the group of wild hogs, known as a sounder, because the adult hogs are wary of entering a confined space, Leary said.

He said the suspended corrals have proven successful, catching an entire sounder of 62 hogs in one instance.

The department and the U.S. Department of Agriculture also are using helicopters to kill the feral hogs this year.

Despite the success, the feral hogs continue to grow because they produce two litters of one to seven piglets ever 12 to 15 months.

The feral hogs are found in 38 states and have caused an estimated economic loss of more than $1.5 billion per year in damage, according to the department.

Leary urged Missourians who encounter feral hogs to contact the department rather than hunting them.

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