All Missourians should be thankful and supportive of the U.S. Forest Service’s (USFS) decision to join the Missouri Feral Hog Elimination Partnership. In December the USFS announced the decision to no longer allow hunting of feral hogs in the Mark Twain National Forest (MTNF). This was both a wise move and a positive step in the fight to eliminate highly invasive and destructive feral hogs. Most public land agencies had already closed feral hog hunting in 2016, after 25 years of allowing hog hunting only increased the population and range of feral hogs in Missouri.
Along with the USFS’s closure of feral hog hunting in MTNF, they also announced that feral hogs could be “opportunistically taken” during deer and turkey hunting seasons by hunters with an unfilled permit in compliance with the permit conditions.
Consistency across all public lands in Missouri to halt the spread of feral hogs will be a good thing. The Missouri Department of Conservation is leading an interagency task force to eliminate feral hogs through a program focused primarily on trapping. Hunting is not an efficient means toward that goal. Hunting activities, particularly hunting with dogs, scatters the sounder and makes trapping efforts much more difficult.
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Professional wildlife managers and biologists know what they are doing, and by focusing their efforts on trapping they are making headway toward eliminating feral hogs in Missouri. They should be allowed to continue doing their jobs unimpeded by politicians and others who wish to interfere with sound science-based management.
St. Francois County