Feral hogs on the loose

Hunters are helping combat this growing problem

On July 28, the Louisiana Departments of Agriculture and Forestry and Wildlife and Fisheries hosted a meeting in Mansura.

Topics included feral swine and chronic wasting disease in deer. As expected feral swine and LDAF’s new regulations concerning them were the main topic.

We will talk more about CWD at another time.

As we all know, the wild hog problem continues to grow in a significant portion of the lower 48, and they are found in every parish in Louisiana.

Hogs inflict significant damage on agricultural crops, pastures, levees, yards, golf courses and anywhere else they can root up a meal.

Wildlife is impacted, as well, and one slide photo of a hog with a spotted fawn firmly clamped in its jaws drew several “grunts” of disapproval from attendees.

Hogs prey on some wildlife species and eggs of ground nesting birds. They also directly compete for food, consuming acorns and pecans, along with soft mast such as berries and persimmons.

They won’t pass up clover, and they love to hit wildlife food plots for freshly planted wheat, oats and peas.

LDAF researchers are testing and evaluating toxins specific to hogs that won’t harm other animals, but it’s a tough hill to climb.

In the meantime, they strongly support and recommend trapping, shooting and hunting to control the numbers. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries also encourages hunting as a means of control with liberal year round daylight shooting.

Nighttime take on private land is allowed under certain stipulations and presents another opportunity to eliminate more hogs, since older adult hogs avoid traps and some are completely nocturnal.

LDAF’s new feral swine regulations place restrictions on the movement of wild hogs by people. They may now only be live transported to approved feral swine-holding facilities, quarantine swine feedlots or to a recognized state or federally inspected slaughter facility.

In addition, no live feral swine may enter the state unless they are in a sealed trailer accompanied by a restricted-movement permit and are going to one of the above-mentioned facilities.

Call 225-925-3980 for more information on authorized transport.

Sport hunting of feral hogs is certainly nothing new, and for many hunters a fat “woods hog” is a welcome addition to a successful deer hunt. As any southern hunter worth his frying pan will tell you, deer and pork sausage is good.

In recent years, as hog numbers have climbed, more attention has been devoted to methods, locations and gear specific to hogs. We now have hog bait, calls, bullets and rifles designed to help us get more pork.

Both archery and gun deer hunters need to make every effort to bag more feral hogs.

Hunting feral hogs with dogs can be a very effective way to deal with the problem, too.

Making a hunt with dogs will impact hogs in two ways.

First, hogs bayed and caught or killed are eliminated from the area, and on a good day the number can be high. On the best day I ever experienced, we took 12. Try doing that in a day’s hunt from a stand or still hunting.

The other effect is that hogs will leave the area. It is not unusual to see hogs move out of an area following a thorough hunt with dogs. In some situations they are not seen again for months.

It is a great way to move the problem.

However, many landowners and hunting lease members have concerns about dogs on the property. Much of the concern involves deer and the impact on them. But good hog dogs are trained to not run deer, and many hunters keep shock collars on the dogs to administer a reminder should they show any deer interest.

I have also never seen any indication that deer will pack up and leave good habitat the way hogs do as a result of dog hunting.

Landowners can also be a little uneasy about inviting hog dog hunters onto the property if they don’t know the character of the group. I don’t blame them, and encourage a thorough reference check with the local wildlife agent and other landowners who know or have used the hunters before allowing access.

One way to tell is whether you have to wait in line for the hog dog guys to get to you. If they are good, reputable and effective hunters, they are in high demand.

The last word on hogs is to use precautions when skinning and processing them: They carry a number of diseases that can be transmitted to humans, including brucellosis, leptospirosis and salmonellosis, to name a few.

They also carry pseudorabies, a virus that cannot be transmitted to humans but is always fatal in dogs, cats and cattle.

Wear latex or rubber gloves and eye protection when processing, and an apron and rubber footwear is a good idea too. And don’t leave hides or offal where pets can nibble on it.

Do your part to control feral hog numbers and help protect wildlife.

About Keith LaCaze 100 Articles
Retired Wildlife Enforcement Lieutenant Colonel Keith LaCaze spent 34 years with the LDWF beginning in 1977. LaCaze is happily married to wife Mitzi and the father of two children.