To the editor: Missouri has a big problem with feral hogs. They continue to damage natural resources, destroy private agricultural and pasture lands, carry disease, and threaten native wildlife and domestic livestock. That will get worse unless we do something different.
The L-A-D Foundation and Pioneer Forest own and manage land in several counties in southeast Missouri and we have struggled using both hunting and trapping for the past decade, so we are now focusing on trapping entire family packs and are prohibiting hog hunting on our land. Hunting and trapping in Missouri have been underway for more than twenty years, but eradication has only begun to be successful in recent years in areas where hunting has been prohibited. Shooting individual hogs scatters the packs and greatly interferes with efforts to trap entire family groups.
We support the cooperative statewide effort of public agencies and private landowners committed to eradication, including the proposed moratorium on public hog hunting on the Mark Twain National Forest with which we share many miles of boundary. The Mark Twain is the state’s largest landholding, and it is segmented into eight large chunks of land located throughout the central and southern Ozarks. We know that hogs are continuing to spread from the Mark Twain onto adjoining lands despite determined efforts at trapping.
Unfortunately, public response to the recent Mark Twain proposal has included a serious and discouraging misinformation campaign led by a relatively small number of hog hunters who enjoy the sport and wish to perpetuate it. If the Mark Twain is closed to hog hunting, no one will be shut out of hunting game on public land, but hogs are not legal game in Missouri. Hog hunting will still be allowed on private land with the owner’s permission. And hog hunters may eventually be recruited to help in special managed hunts to eradicate hogs from certain remote hollows where trapping or shooting from helicopters is not practical.
Eradicating feral hogs is virtually everyone’s expressed goal, including Congressman Jason Smith and the Missouri Farm Bureau. The Mark Twain proposal has been carefully considered and is supported by many public agencies, agricultural and conservation organizations, private landowners and others. This is a serious effort, and if it succeeds it will be good for Missouri farmers, hunters, and all who enjoy the outdoors.
President, L-A-D Foundation