If you’re a landowner or have a hunting lease, there’s a good chance you’ve encountered feral pigs.
Otherwise, consider yourself blessed.
Wild pigs are a growing problem in Oklahoma. It doesn’t just happen in the woods anymore. You see evidence of this in your planted crop fields, vegetable gardens, parks, golf courses and other areas. They encroach more on populated areas every year.
When they tore up my wife’s moms a few years ago, she wanted to put pulled pork sandwiches on the family menu.
I also read an article by Terry Madewell from the Game & Fish (South) Regional Outdoor Guide. It covered proven cold weather tactics and hog hunting.
“First, pigs are food-oriented creatures. They are never far from food. But by February,… the green vegetation, acorns, insects and other favorite foods were mostly gone, ”Madewell said.
So, they need to broaden their search for vittles.
Madewell continued to say they don’t mind the rain. Pigs will continue to move and feed in the rain, so hunters should be aware of this.
Wild pigs have become a concern throughout Oklahoma due to their increasing numbers and the damage they are inflicting on the landscape.
I contacted Jeff Pennington, a wildlife supervisor at ODWC, who said. Every year we have an increase in the feral pig population, with the exception of the drought year of 2011. ”
Pennington continued, “The ministry’s message is that these pigs are unwanted, that they compete with wildlife for food sources, and even steal a turkey’s nest of eggs. They are a threat of disease. Trapping is more efficient than hunting. If landowners communicate with each other, they can formulate a plan to reduce the number of feral pigs in their area.
I also heard from Brent Morgan, who is the wildlife biologist at Camp Gruber and the Cherokee Wildlife Refuge. Morgan said, “Everything is going well in our area. Pigs will definitely scare deer and compete for food while destroying other food for all wildlife. No trapping is currently taking place as pig numbers appear to be leveling off around Cherokee and Camp Gruber. The numbers fluctuate from year to year. We saw pigs and signs of rooting, but not as many as usual. “
They have been detected in virtually all 77 counties in the state, but they are more prevalent in southern Oklahoma. They are also more active at night.
Wild pigs congregate in groups called “pollsters”. Each sounder can destroy several hectares each night in search of food. A wild pig will eat about 4 percent of its body weight per day.
Besides the destruction of property, other concerns regarding feral pigs are:
• Population growth. Wild pigs have a high reproductive potential and piglets become sexually active around the age of 6 months. Estimates place the wild pig population in Oklahoma at 600,000 to 1.5 million.
• Transmission of disease. Wild pigs can be infected with brucellosis and leptospirosis, which can be transmitted to humans. Pseudorabies are present in about a third of the wild pig population. This disease can spread to dogs, cattle, goats and sheep. Wild pigs can also be carriers and transmit many other diseases.
• Threat to wildlife: Wild pig activity puts stress on native species. Pigs consume food resources that also support deer, raccoons, black bears, and possums. Wildlife can contract many diseases caused by feral pigs. Wild pigs have few natural predators, and in some cases, wild pigs have started chasing wild animals for prey.
Public agencies and landowner groups are very interested in what can be done to control the problem of feral pigs. Experts have determined that the best methods are trapping – especially full sonar trapping – and aerial fire.
Landowners who have been victims of depredation from feral pigs can contact the Wildlife Services Division of the state Department of Agriculture at (405) 521-4039.
Eradication is not realistic at the landscape level. A realistic goal of the landscape is to slow the spread and reduce the density of feral pigs by various methods.
The ODWC views feral pigs as vermin and maintains that they should in no way be glorified, even though feral pigs are desired by some as target animals on hunting grounds.
I also bought a copy of Hog Hunting magazine from North American Whitetail. Joe Pinson’s “Before They Were Feral” article offered a glimpse into the history of the Southeast Oklahoma pig and reveals that these now-hated creatures were once a valuable survival resource.
The author recounts a time when cattle and pigs roamed the countryside and fences surrounded gardens or cultivated land.
It was a time “before barns for sale existed” and reminds us that “the famous Hatfield and McCoy feud actually started over a pig”.
There is no need to start a quarrel because there are a lot of pigs to be had.
Outfitters in Oklahoma offer hog hunting packages if you can’t find a farmer or landowner who is desperate to reduce the pig population. I use the term “reduced” because eliminating them totally is a long shot.
Contact John Kilgore at jkilgoreoutdoors @ yahoo.com.