The U.S. Forest Service weighed in on feral hog hunting in the Mark Twain National Forest. The department will allow limited hog hunting for licensed deer and turkey hunters but prohibit pure hog hunting in general.
What this means is that it will be legal for deer and turkey hunters to kill the invasive hogs while hunting other game during the deer and turkey seasons, but hunters looking to exclusively hunt wild hogs in the forest will not be permitted in any season.
Hog hunting will remain legal on private property with the property owner’s permission regardless of season.
“We received and reviewed more than a thousand comments from our public outreach around this decision,” said Tony Crump, Deputy Forest Supervisor for Mark Twain National Forest, in a statement.
The decision to limit hog hunting in the Mark Twain National Forest may actually open up hog hunting in other parts of Missouri. The Missouri Department of Conversation is looking to mirror the Forest Service’s policy and allow limited hog hunting on MDC lands.
Feral hog hunting is currently banned on MDC land and the MDC relies on trapping to curb the invasive species.
“By allowing for opportunistic take during all deer and turkey hunting seasons, we incorporated public feedback to most effectively remove these invasive pigs from Missouri in alignment with the Missouri Feral Hog Elimination Partnership,” stated the MDC.
The new Forest Service policy is in effect immediately for the remainder of the 2019-2020 deer season in the Mark Twain National Forest. While the MDC would like to open their lands to incidental hog hunting, the change will still need to go through a public comment period in 2020.
Wildlife officials argue that recreational hog hunting complicates locating and trapping large groups of feral hogs. Hog hunting, especially with dogs, can scatter hog populations and make them wary of bait locations. As a result, hog populations can actually increase short of a larger, coordinated extermination program.
By allowing hunters to take hogs “opportunistically” they can accommodate hog hunting on public lands alongside hog extermination programs conducted by wildlife management.
“We continue to hear from Missouri farmers and ranchers who have damage to their farmland and are concerned about the animal disease threat feral swine pose,” said Missouri Director of Agriculture Chris Chinn. “Agriculture is critically important to Missouri and our farm families depend on a united front that will protect their livelihood.”
“Feral swine are estimated to have a $1.5 billion impact in the United States today,” said Chinn. “However, the devastating affects feral swine could have in the event of an animal disease outbreak is immeasurable.”