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Mosby: Wild hogs a complicated issue in Ark.

Posted: January 18, 2014 - 12:37pm

Why don’t they do something about all the wild hogs in Arkansas? No one has yet to come up with a definitive answer to this frequently asked question. We are not alone in this regard. States surrounding Arkansas have yet to solve or even to alleviate the hog problem.

Texas, for example, has adopted a policy of “if you can’t beat them, join them.” Huge numbers of wild or feral hogs now roam much of Texas.

Shooting and trapping have not impacted their numbers.

That state’s wildlife agency says, “Although feral hogs are not classified as game animals, a hunting license is required to hunt them. Feral hogs are very intelligent and considered to be a challenging quarry. Many hunters consider the long tusks and mean appearance a genuine trophy, in addition to the quality of meat. They also provide a great off-season challenge and opportunities to hone hunting skills and spend time in the field.”

But Texas, like Arkansas and other states, strongly recommends trapping as the most efficient method for landowners to cut down on hog numbers on their property.

A veteran wildlife biologist with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission said, “When you find a group of hogs and shoot one or even two, the rest scatter in all directions. You won’t see them again anytime soon. Shooting makes the survivors wiser and more wary. Hogs are highly intelligent.”

Licenses are not required for hunting hogs in Arkansas. The notion of shooting wild hogs is strong with many Arkansans — strong enough so there tends to be heavy criticism of the Game and Fish Commission for not allowing year-round unrestricted hunting of wild hogs on its wildlife management areas. Many of these critics want to go after hogs on the management areas where dogs are never allowed for deer hunting.

But dogs are allowed on management areas for squirrel hunting, rabbit hunting, raccoon hunting and bird hunting. Field personnel with the Game and Fish Commission tell of instances where they find hunters with dogs wearing protective jackets. “We’re just squirrel hunting.”

Ferocious squirrels in these Arkansas woods?

Wild hogs with their razor sharp tusks can be death and destruction to dogs pursuing them.

The wild hog problem is ongoing partly because of under-the-radar activities by some people. It is illegal to release hogs into the wild in Arkansas, but it is routinely done, according to sources inside and outside the Game and Fish Commission. Now it’s a felony to release hogs, but the practice still goes on.

Hog hunts are sold — quietly, discreetly. Some of the clients come from far away apparently, folks willing to lay down some serious money for a chance to kill a wild hog and take home a story lending itself to all kinds of embellishment — in addition to taking home bacon.

For a number of years now, the Game and Fish Commission has recommended trapping, not hunting, for reducing or keeping in check wild hogs on private and public property. Plans for building hog traps are on the agency’s web site, agfc.com.

At present, AGFC biologists are targeting groups of feral hogs, called sounders, for removal by trapping. Small areas up to five acres within some management areas are being temporarily closed to access by the public so trapping can be done.

The AGFC said, “Due to the nomadic nature of feral hogs, the exact locations of the closed areas are likely to shift periodically throughout the year. ... An additional benefit of the closures ensures that the hogs do not become educated to the traps and learn to avoid them in the future.”

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