Thursday, September 8, 2011

Feral Hogs

There has been a lot written about the feral hog problem in the the plains states, especially the southwest where hog hunting is popular.  Texas in particular has a huge problem with an estimated two million feral hogs tearing up the soil and transmitting disease to domestic pigs.  Still, it was a surprise to read about the problem occurring in central New York State.  While the population is relatively small it points out the potential problem in the northeast.  As reported in an Associated Press story:

"Feral swine multiply rapidly, with sows producing several litters a year of four to six piglets, so as with any invasive species, it's crucial to mount aggressive eradication efforts before the population is widely established, Batcheller said. They're also wily and secretive, and become even more so when people try to shoot or trap them."
Hog and raccoons
Pigs are smart, and they learn to avoid areas where their kin have met sudden death.  I recently discussed the feral hog problem in a January blog.  At that time, the Missouri Department of Conservation had trapped and killed a record 25 hogs on my neighbor's property.  Unfortunately, it isn't that easy now.

We have been working with the USDA to trap hogs running wild on  adjoining Mark Twain National Forest land.  For two months we have been putting out bait corn on the edge of a field where pigs had been seen.  Initially we saw 5 hogs on the game camera but after a few days, only a single big boar showed up and he has been a regular visitor.  Boars are known to kill and eat piglets and he may be scaring away the females with young.

Over time our corn has developed quite a following.  Our game camera that initially captured a single raccoon now pictures up to eight at a time.  On a recent night, as I poured corn out, young raccoons came out of the woods to eat at my feet.  They looked offended when I threw sticks at them but waited patiently10 feet away until I left.  A nighttime inspection with a powerful flashlight makes the nearest tree look like Christmas with all the little eyes glowing back.

Turkey are regular daytime visitors, pecking at the individual kernels left by the mammals.  Deer come in from time to time and occasionally we have a United Nations gathering of three species at once.  We even have a daytime picture of an unknown trespasser carrying a rifle.

The last few days there have been multiple sightings of a bear wearing an MDC radio collar.  It isn't surprising that he came by to get his portrait at our game camera.   He even went into the newly placed hog trap to look around.  Fortunately he didn't set it off as we would have had a challenge getting it out of the trap safely.


Collared bear- click to enlarge




To paraphrase Forest Gump, "Hog trappin" is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to find.

Late Breaking News
Russian Boar- Click to enlarge
Last night we finally caught the Russian Boar that had been hanging around for a month.  Unlike the escaped pigs living and reproducing in the wild, this is a wild boar.  Their body is relatively compact and their snout is long and somewhat pointed.  The males have tusks and are capable of inflicting severe damage when they attack.  This element of danger makes them a popular game animal in the Southwest.
They were first introduced by Columbus who brought eight to the new world.  Cortes, de Soto, and La Salle contributed and more were introduced for sport hunting in the early 20th century.  They are celebrated at the University of Arkansas as their razorback.  Our specimen lived up to his reputation, charging at us in his trap until the last.

3 comments:

  1. Any domesticated animal that can survive in the wild is dangerous and harmful .

    We raised a few pigs about twenty+ years ago in a woodland area and they escaped on a regular basis . They are very intelligent and will happily take on the human mind . We were forever chasing pigs through the bush trying to round them up . I do believe they actually enjoyed the game . Well I can say they eventually ended up in the pot. ( Not an ounce of fat on them...all that exercise.)

    I hadn't realized how much of a problem they had become south of the border. That's a little scary.

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  2. Bob.. please continue to put out lots of corn to attract critters, I'm getting almost $11.75 dollars a bushel for it!

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  3. Love catching up on all that you guys are doing! Miss you both,

    Katy

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