After 10 years, we finally nailed Osama bin Laden. Once more, the U.S. is raising voices as one as we stand in awe of the team of Navy Seals that were able to do the seemingly impossible; sneak up on the terrorist and eradicate him.
Would that we hunters, forest land owners and farmers could somehow have similar results with a problem that pales in comparison to bin Laden and al- Qaida but is a growing nemesis nonetheless – feral hogs.
Jeff Taverner, private lands biologist with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), conducted a Feral Hog Workshop last weekend at the Department's Minden office.
The two dozen or so hunters/rural property owners in attendance learned that hogs are not native to North America; they were introduced by the explorer DeSoto in the 1500s. Dr. Jim Lacour, LDWF's veterinarian estimates there are some 400,000 feral hogs rooting around in Louisiana, also pointing out that one sow can produce as many as 120 piglets in her lifetime.
"You have to eradicate 75-80 percent of the feral hog population every year just to keep the population static. This is why hog control has to be a year round effort; you can't let up or the numbers will get away from you," Lacour noted.
Simply stated, if you see a herd of 10 pigs and you don't knock 8 of them off, you're losing ground.
Okay, so what can hunters/lease holders/rural property owners do to try and control the growing numbers of these beasts? You can't poison them because poisons are not species-specific; you could be killing deer and other non-problematic species of wildlife. Hunting and trapping offer the best chance of reducing hog numbers.
"There are laws on the book now that allow hunting, day and night, for any resident possessing a small game hunting license," said Taverner. "There are some restrictions, however. Currently, the only firearms allowed for hog hunting are .22 rim-fire rifles or shotguns with buckshot. Legislation has been introduced this session to allow center-fire rifles for hog hunting and hopefully that will become law soon.
"You can hunt hogs at night on your own land or land you lease provided you have written permission from the land owner," Taverner added.
Trapping hogs can be a successful venture, or it can be one filled with frustration. Hogs are wary of smaller enclosed traps and are more likely to be caught in traps of larger, more open design. Taverner had a trap set up for display on the grounds at the Minden office that has proven effective.
This trap looks like a round pen and is some 24 feet in diameter, consisting of only two items – heavy gauge cattle or hog panel wire, 5 feet high and "t"-posts. The posts are driven into the ground every 4 feet with a t-post driver deep enough that the wing is below the surface of the ground.
The trap is baited for a week or two until the hogs become accustomed to it; then a trip wire is installed that will shut the wire gate. Hogs can still come in; they can't leave the trap.
By law, hogs that are captured may not be moved to another location to be released; they're destined for sausage and pork chops. Speakers urged that in processing feral hogs, care must be taken because of potential diseases feral hogs may carry. However when cooked at high enough temperatures, the meat of feral hogs is safe.
I'm glad Bin Laden is gone; I only wish the same for these blasted wild hogs.
Glynn Harris Outdoors is proudly sponsored by DSK, Ltd. of Minden.