With deer-hunting seasons approaching, some attention is directed to a persistent problem. Feral (wild) hogs are widespread in Arkansas, and they relish attractants like corn put out for deer.
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is quick to urge hunters to kill feral hogs.These prolific animals are nuisances, extremely destructive to wildlife and are unwanted. Persons who release hogs into the wild are subject to arrest and stiff penalties.
This is nothing new, and the hogs persist, even increase in numbers in many areas of the state.
Texas has an experiment that appears to be successful. It’s not something to reduce feral hogs, but to control their interfering with deer feeders.
Sturdy low metal fencing circling deer feeders is keeping hogs out, but allowing deer to easily jump over to reach the food.
The Texas experimenters used 16-foot panels of 60-inch heavy wire fencing, a type often called hog fencing. These panels were cut in half, length-wise, leaving two pieces 30 inches high.
They were anchored to steel T-posts driven well into the ground. Several panels were used to circle a deer feeder.
The hogs could not get over the panels and did not root under them. But deer readily stepped over the panels to reach the corn distributed by the feeders.
This idea keeps hogs from feeders, but does not reduce their numbers.
According to the AGFC, “On private land, feral hogs may be killed or trapped year-round, day or night, by a landowner or anyone with the landowner’s permission (except anyone who has had his or her hunting license revoked). All general regulations for hunting safety should be observed.”
Rules are tighter for going after hogs on wildlife management areas, although the AGFC encourages hunters on these areas to kill feral hogs they may come across.
“The AGFC encourages hunters to shoot all feral hogs they see on WMAs. Hunters may kill feral hogs on WMAs during daylight hours during any open hunting season as long as they are using a weapon legal for that season.
“Only permit holders may hunt feral hogs during special permit hunts. Feral hogs killed on WMAs can be taken for processing or left where they were shot. Hunters may not use dogs, bait or traps to hunt feral hogs on WMAs and may not hunt at night.”
There are no limits on how many hogs a person can kill, since they are not game animals. Some cautions are needed, however.
Feral hogs can be dangerous. Shooting them with a .22 long-rifle cartridge won’t work. Forget a shotgun, too, unless it is loaded with a slug. Rifles, even muzzle-loaders, suitable for deer hunting are needed for hog work.
Raiding deer feeders is just a small portion of the damage feral hogs do in Arkansas. Wreaking havoc to wildlife habitat is much more common.
Even more than corn, feral hogs love acorns. So do deer, squirrels, ducks, turkeys, bears and many other species of wildlife. Hogs are efficient at finding acorns, and other wildlife won’t challenge hogs over the acorns.
Hogs often tearing up wildlife habitat in the process of finding food, according to the AGFC. On private lands, they cause heavy damage to row crops, gardens, flower beds, young pine trees, orchards and pastures.
Some areas in Arkansas have been hit especially hard by feral hogs in recent years. They have caused major, sometimes irreparable, damage to small, fragile habitats, such as acid seeps in the Ouachita mountains and cedar glades in the Ozark mountains, according to the AGFC.
A benefit in killing nuisance hogs is they can yield good meat for the table. Dressing out a hog, even a fairly small wild one, is no easy chore, though, and gloves should be worn, since hogs may carry diseases that affect humans.
Cooking eliminates this disease threat.
Joe Mosby is the retired news editor of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Arkansas’ best known outdoor writer. His work is distributed by the Arkansas News Bureau in Little Rock. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.