Sunday, March 22, 2009

Managing Wild Hog Damage Workshop

Tom Counts, Allison Cochran, and I attended the Managing Wild Hog Damage Workshop in Tusculoosa on March 20, 2009. Feral hogs are a problem in the Bankhead National Forest, and the problem is getting worse across the state and the nation. This workshop was an effort to spread the word on effective hog control techniques. The workshop speakers had years of experience with wild hogs. The organizers had also put up several types of hog traps on the grounds, and the last part of the workshop was held outside at the traps. I made few notes on points that I thought were important:
  • Hogs have quick 115 day gestation period (less than four months)
  • 4-15 offspring per litter
  • 6 months of age at sexual maturity
  • Group of pigs is called a "Sounder"
  • Home range of 10 miles, and they are nomadic
  • They are fast runners and can reach 30 mph.
  • Their eyesight is poor, they rely on an excellent sense of smell.
  • Most active from 2 am to 5 am
  • Seek water and shade during the heat of the day.
  • Adult has a 12-inch long nasal cavity for excellent sense of smell.
  • Sows make brood nests out of vegetation.
  • Meat processors are not approved to slaughter wild hogs in the same facilities as other game, making it unprofitable for many processors.
  • Cholera has potential to be harbored in wild hogs.
  • Raw pork from wild hogs can give dogs a fatal disease called pseudorabies.
  • Wild hogs carry brucellosis.
  • Trapping is most cost-effective control, but must be used as part of a multi-faceted approach.
  • No eye shine with spotlights at night, and it's against law without permit.
  • Conservation officers can issue control permits without a site visit.
  • Molasses is a good bait because it has a smell that draws them to the trap.
  • Many Farmers Coops sell bulk molasses at a reasonable cost.
  • "Pre-baiting" is a key to success in trapping hogs.
  • A "Poor Mans Hog Trap" costs about $350 to build.
  • Texas has the largest hog problem, so bad that it now allows aerial hunting.
  • New technologies such as radio tagging, and thermal night imaging show promise in controlling feral hogs.
Over a hundred people attended the workshop. A few random shots of the traps setup at the workshop are located here. Thanks to Mark Smith, Chris Jaworowski, Wayne Ford, and others for organizing an excellent program.

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