Feral hog hunting outlawed on state-owned land
JEFFERSON CITY — Hunting in Missouri may be a little different this year due to a new rule for hunting.
This year, hunters can no longer shoot or kill feral hogs on Missouri Department of Conservation-owned land because it actually can help the population grow said the feral hog coordinator of Missouri, Alan Leary.
"Some hunters interfere with our trapping activities. They'll find where we have traps set up and are trying to catch hogs and then they'll hunt in that area and disturb our traps or just scare the hogs off. And then they'll scatter off into new areas," Leary said.
Other ways hunters can encourage the feral hog population is by catching and releasing hogs into new areas in Missouri to hunt. Hunters also typically shoot and kill one or two hogs in a group of about 20 or more. Those then move to a new area and reproduce there.
"With feral hogs their reproductive rate is so high we need to take the entire group out at one time. Otherwise those that are left are just going to reproduce and fill the vacancy left by other ones." Leary said.
The conservation department has to make new traps to trick the hogs because they are smart and will learn to avoid the traps.
"Hogs are very smart and I've read that some people consider them the third smartest animal on the planet. So they adapt and they learn our traps and get scared of our traps so we are continuing to evolve with new traps," Leary said.
They have a new high tech trap this year that has proved to be affective.
"The latest one actually is suspended off the ground and the animals don't realize they are entering a confined space. They don't even see the trap they just see the bait and then they walk under it and the trap is actually activated remotely by a cell phone. So we can watch it and we can actually see when the entire group of hogs is underneath it and we can drop the trap from wherever there is a cell signal," Leary said.
Since the beginning of 2016, they have caught over 4,300 hogs which is more than any other year.
They are as destructive as they are smart.
"They compete directly with native wildlife for food like acorns and other natural foods. They also do tremendous damage to agricultural crops. A small group of hogs can destroy a whole ten acre field in an evening." Leary said. "They also carry 30- 35 different diseases that they can transmit to humans pets and livestock."
He suggests that if you have suffered damage from feral hogs on your property you call the conservation and they will come and help trap all of them for you.
[Editor's Note: This story has been updated to correct information in the original text. Hunters can no longer shoot or kill feral hogs on Missouri Department of Conservation-owned land.]