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Statement on Control Methods of Feral Hog Population in Louisiana
Read LWF's resolution "A Plan of Action for Louisiana's Feral Hog Invasion" at http://www.lawildlifefed.org/resolutions_detail.cfm?id=50
STATEMENT ON CONTROL METHODS:
LWF supports a comprehensive, cooperative approach to controlling the feral hog population in Louisiana. We support killing as many feral hogs as possible to reduce or at least maintain the population, which Louisiana has not been able to do with current efforts by hunters, agencies and private landowners. If there are at least an estimated 500,000 feral hogs in the population, and we need to kill 60 – 75% each year just to stem the growth, but all current hunting and trapping measures killed about 32% in 2013, we are not winning the battle. Feral hogs destroy crops, destroy levees, carry disease that can be transmitted to humans and other animals, negatively impact habitat of other wildlife and game species, and reproduce at an astonishing rate.
LWF does support aerial gunning of feral hogs where it is the best way to work in open habitat that is difficult to access to employ other control measures for feral hogs.
But we also recognize that this would be a complex program that requires regulations and monitoring to be conducted safely and effectively. Federal law does not allow hunting from the air but depredation measures can be used.
We ask that the legislature authorize the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission to develop a program with recommendations from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife Fisheries. At the Commission’s April meeting, when this was discussed, the Department requested time to develop a program that could assess what Texas does and improve on it for Louisiana. We look to that effort for a sound recommendation and the opportunity for the public to comment on aerial gunning.
Some of LWF’s recommendations and concerns about aerial gunning include requiring minimum acreage, safety and training for the shooters, and proper equipment needed to be effective. LWF is also concerned that a black bear could be misidentified as a feral hog and accidentally shot if not careful about identifying the target. Finally, experience and studies show that feral swine will modify their behavior to avoid detection by helicopters so ultimately, more than one measure must be used.
Many strategies are needed to reduce the feral hog population and some work better in different types of habitat. Hunting alone is not controlling the population of feral hogs. Trapping has limited impact due to the ability of feral hogs to quickly learn how to evade traps. Corralling the whole sounder works well but can be costly because it requires building fencing, baiting and monitoring to be effective in trapping them this way. A biological agent, like using “hog salt”, which includes high doses of sodium nitrite added to bait, is being tested and promises to be a humane but effective way to reduce the population. It may not be available for use for a few years so state agencies, federal agencies and private landowners must continue to work toward a coordinated, comprehensive approach to the problem.
It’s important to note that even if a landowner or leaseholder can significantly reduce the feral hog population on their property, neighboring property may not be systematically reducing their population at the same time or more feral hogs are being transported to new locations. This is of great concern to LWF and is one reason we support a ban on live transportation of feral hogs. We believe it to be a significant contribution to a growing population in all areas of the state. Feral hogs tend not to roam far yet a judas pig study showed a pig that had moved from the Lafayette area to the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain. It is doubtful that it swam the Atchafalaya and the Mississippi River. This outlaw quadruped was carted to a new location to establish what will surely be a problem presenting itself in a few years as just one young sow can produce up to 3 litters in one year.
LWF understands that property owners, particularly farmers, want to hunt feral hogs year round at night to take hogs when feral hogs are causing crop damage. We encourage the permitting process the Department uses to permit taking of feral hogs at night during deer season. But we are against making night hunting legal between September and February due to negative impacts on other game hunting, increased difficulty in enforcement and the unintended consequence of encouraging illegal hunting. In addition to considering the rights of private property owners, there is the right of the public to protect a public resource. Wild game animals are a public resource and other hunters have the right to preserve that resource from being unintentionally disturbed at night or illegally hunted under the guise of hunting outlaw quadrupeds (feral hogs).
The members of LWF do share a deep concern that feral hogs are destroying property, crops and habitat. The problem deserves an approach that can provide real relief and not piecemeal approaches that simply run off hogs to the neighbor’s property. And that is what is happening now: the population grows and we are shifting the problem around.
LWF is encouraged to see federal funding coming to help the state lead in a comprehensive approach and urge the legislature to address the problems of an exploding feral hog problem with more resources where possible.