It is possible to manage feral hogs on a large scale by being consistent and persistent, landowners and hunters were told at a Sept. 28 LSU AgCenter seminar.
Farmers and hunters across the Southeast are reporting feral hogs as nuisances that cause considerable damage to their land and other wildlife populations, said Don Reed, LSU AgCenter forestry and wildlife specialist.
“Even people who don’t hunt, such as sugarcane and rice farmers, are having fits with them,” Reed said. “They are adaptable to a wide range of habitats.”
A 2008 statewide survey showed 80 percent of the respondents reporting feral hogs on their land and 95 percent indicating problems with food plots and timber resources. Every respondent said the number of hogs on their property has increased.
“There are two types of landowners,” said Walter Cotton, a USDA wildlife damage biologist. “Those that have hogs now and those that will.”
Hogs are an ecological and monetary disaster, Cotton said.
Feral hogs are the most prolific wild game animal in North America and can weigh up to 400 pounds. “Their population can double in four months,” Reed said.
Tending to travel in groups, feral hogs’ home range is influenced by the abundance of food. “They are opportunistic omnivores,” Reed said, explaining that hogs eat almost anything in their path – plants or animals (even some that are dead). They also consume acorns and earthworms.
“Very seldom are you going to see hogs and deer feed together,” Reed said. “Hogs rule the roost.”
Every available tool and technology need to be used to manage hogs. And safety should be the first concern in hunting and trapping hogs.
“Brucellosis is the reason why you wear gloves,” said Cotton. “Do not eat, drink or smoke while handling animals, either alive or dead. Don’t get blood or bodily fluids into open sores or your mouth.”
Feral hogs can be trapped in several ways, with pros and cons to each. Cages are easy to maintain once set up, but they can be bulky and hard to handle when they need to be moved. They can catch multitudes of hogs, but hogs learn to avoid them.
“I don’t like a trap with a floor in it,” Cotton said. “I think when they feel that, they back out.” He also does not use traps with a top.
Corn is the most popular bait in Louisiana. “Most folks like to sour it a little bit,” Cotton said. Beer or strawberry-flavored Kool-Aid can be added to corn. Strawberry scent has been found to be the most appealing.
Cotton said some trappers add diesel fuel to corn bait. “I don’t advocate it,” he said. “It is not very environmentally friendly.”
Snares are versatile traps, but Cotton cautioned that the higher the snare, the more likely a deer will be caught. “In bear country, we do not use snares.”
Dogs are not as effective in population management, and some diseases of hogs are transmissible to dogs.
Electric fences work fairly well. “The more pressure you put on those hogs, the more they’re going to move off your property. Use enough gun,” Cotton said about hunting feral hogs. “A wounded hog becomes smart. Shooting two of a group of 30 makes 28 nervous hogs.”
A hog-trapping information handout contained information on the Hawg Stopper, a guillotine-type trap from Randy Kelley in Camden, Ark., and a trap with a drop-down door from a Montgomery High School agriculture teacher.