Aerial hunters approved by the state shot and killed 257 wild hogs in Kansas during a two-day hunt last week, but experts say the troublesome swine will continue to wreak havoc in the state.
An estimated 2,000 feral hogs make Kansas home, while Missouri might have as many as 10,000. Nationally, feral swine are estimated to number 4 million and cause nearly $1 billion in damage.
The hogs are blamed for stealing field crops, ruining wetlands and potentially spreading disease to livestock. And they have no natural predator, meaning they can reproduce with little or nothing to stop them.
Although many hunters would like to go after the hogs, the state of Kansas has banned such hunting, hoping to take away the incentive for people to release the hogs into the wild. But landowners say they are still constantly asked by hunters for permission to hunt the hogs.
Brenna Wulfkuhle, who raises cattle near Stull, said the hog hunters "don't get it." Hunting hogs only spreads them across the landscape, she said.
"The hogs tear up our pasture," she said. "And if we ever found a hog with foot-and-mouth disease, there'll be a quarantine of everything around here."
Last year, the Kansas Legislature outlawed nearly all hog hunting, meaning only a landowner or someone they designate who is state-registered can hunt hogs on a particular piece of property. Charging for hunting rights also is prohibited.
Most rural landowners are happy to allow state and federal wildlife agents on to their property to kill the wild pigs, but a few decline. Those refusals reinforce suspicions that most feral hogs are released by people trying to nurture sport hunting.
Outfitter Rick Lambert, of Sun City, has suggested imposing a bounty on the hogs to enlist weekend hunters in the eradication effort.
"I still have guys calling me every week who want to come out and hunt hogs," he said, but he has to turn them down.
Kansas Livestock Commissioner George Teagarden said the animals have moved from three locations to more than two dozen counties.
"We know they didn't walk from southern Kansas to the Oklahoma border. They don't move that far," he said. "Somebody picked them up and moved them."
The spreading of disease is the main concern.
"With some of these things, it could go from a feral hog to a domestic herd and then to a number of states almost overnight," said Paul Grosdidier, a veterinarian with the Kansas Animal Health Department.
In Missouri, it is illegal to release hogs on public land or on unfenced private land, or to collect a fee for guiding a hunt on public land. But unlike Kansas, Missouri allows hog hunting and hog-hunting fees.
In 2004, the Missouri Department of Conservation caught hunting guides illegally releasing hogs the same morning undercover agents, posing as sport hunters, were going out to search for wild pigs.
The outfitters charged $50 to $100 per hunter and an additional $100 to $250 for each hog they shot.
Those pigs were set loose on land owned, in one case, by the U.S. Forest Service and, in another case, by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Several outfitters were fined $2,500.
"The outfitting fees are just extra pocket money for these guys," said Bill Kohne, one of the conservation agents involved in the investigations. "Those fines can wipe that out pretty quickly."
Source: The Hutchinson News
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Tags: Kansas, Wild Hogs, Hog Hunting, U.S. Forest Service , Missouri, Wildlife