Missouri Department of Conservation wildlife biologists on the feral hog strike team have tallied up numbers for 2016. The year yielded a total of 5,358 feral hogs removed by MDC, partner agencies and private landowners, a significant increase over 2015 when 3,649 feral hogs were removed from the landscape.
Some attributing factors in the increase include MDC’s “Report, don’t shoot” message encouraging trapping (see April 2016 Today’s Farmer), banning hog hunting on conservation areas and a strong public awareness campaign.
Some 2,941 feral hogs were trapped in southeast Missouri, which is where the highest density of feral hogs occurs. The Ozark region trapped 1,293, while the Southwest region trapped 1,006 hogs. St. Louis, Central and Kansas City regions all trapped fewer than 100 feral hogs each.
Alan Leary, MDC’s wildlife management coordinator and leader of its feral hog eradication efforts, said the immediate goal is to keep feral hogs from spreading to northern regions of the state while working to eliminate the population altogether. Feral hogs are a serious threat to fish, forests and wildlife as well as agricultural resources. Economic losses resulting from feral hog damage in the U.S. is estimated at greater than $1.5 billion per year.
“We made significant progress in 2016,” said Leary. “The key to eradicating these destructive, invasive pests is cooperation with private landowners and partners in efforts to report hog sightings, continue trapping and deter hog hunting and the illegal release of hogs.”
In 2016, MDC partnered with other conservation groups, agriculture organizations and the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation to provide the state’s feral hog strike team with more trapping equipment for use on both private and public land and to fund public education efforts on the dangers of feral hogs.
MDC also increased communication efforts with a campaign featuring private landowners who suffered hog damage and are working with MDC and USDA to eradicate feral hogs.
Visit mdc.mo.gov/feralhog to report feral hog sightings or damage.