Marvin Garrett of Minden has been hunting wild hogs for 20 years. Back in 1994, he was hunting for sport but now it's a lot more for helping farmers and hunters of other game.
"It used to be that you would go three or four times without finding one, but now you find some at least every time," Garrett said. "The population has significantly increased in the last 15 to 20 years, and the species of hogs have changed as well."
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries biologist Kate Hasapes said wild hogs are like rabbits in their ability to multiply, but they're violent and destructive.
"They cause billions of dollars of damage economically," Hasapes said. "With expanding populations, they're coming into golf courses and causing problems in suburban areas."
One Louisiana legislator is working to stop the destructive creatures by amending the laws that govern hunting them.
Rep. Richie Burford, R-District 7, has introduced a bill for the third time that would extend hog hunting by any means year round, day and night. The only exclusion to the hog hunting season would be running dogs at night from September 1 through the last day in February (mainly deer season).
"From my point of view, the problem the feral hogs are causing landowners is more of a problem than people hunting deer illegally," Burford said, adding that past opposition was possible interference with deer season. "The more you kill, the better off you are. We were giving them a reprieve from fall to spring."
Garrett has been asked by farmers and deer hunters in Webster Parish to remedy their hog problems. There are about 600,000 to 1 million wild hogs in Louisiana.
"They'll go in the field, and they go perfectly down the row and pick up every grain, every seed that's planted," he said. "I've seen them personally destroy upwards to 15 to 20 acres a night."
During deer hunting season, Garrett has seen hogs destroy deer food plots, knock over feeders and root to the point of not being able to drive a tractor over the ground to repair the damage. He's also heard of hogs destroying turkey nests and even killing and eating newborn deer.
"I've personally seen people get cut or ripped open by them," he said. "I've seen them charge the dogs or whatever stands in their way."
Feral pigs breeding with wild Russian boar stock (brought to the United States for trophy hunting) has led to the overpopulation of wild hogs, Hasapes said.
"Because we have no more large carnivores, they have no natural predators other than man," Hasapes said. "There are coyotes, but a large sow trying to protect her piglets — a coyote is not going to stand a chance."
Wild hogs also carry bacteria-causing diseases that humans and dogs can contract, such as brucellosis and pseudorabies. Biologists are also studying the possibility of the transfer of leptospirosis from hogs to deer, which affects reproduction, Hasapes said.
The bill is set for House debate this week, and Burford expects it to pass to the Senate.