(Jefferson City) – When asked where to hunt feral hogs in Missouri, Conservation Agent Brad Hadley has a standard response.
“I will simply answer, ‘If you want to hunt feral hogs go to another state,” Hadley said.
Hadley wants to eradicate feral hogs from Missouri. He, and other MDC officials, answers this way because they know well-intentioned “hog hunters” typically are unsuccessful or may remove only one or two hogs in multiple attempts. The hunters’ presence and activities may actually cause feral hogs to leave an area, which can disrupt many weeks of baiting and trapping efforts by MDC staff.
“It causes us to have to start the process of scouting, surveillance, pre-baiting conditioning, and trap building all over, and often at a site several miles away,” Hadley explained.
Hadley said it’s important for Missourians to realize that though “hog-hunting” might sound like a good time, the activity isn’t worth the damage it causes. Hogs that aren’t removed from an area reproduce at staggering rates and they decimate crops and wildlife habitat.
This is why it’s illegal to release hogs on public or private land that’s not adequately fenced to contain them. Each hog released represents a separate offense, Hadley said. Multiple convictions for releasing hogs can lead to felony charges, with fines of up to $5,000 and an additional $1,000 per hog administrative penalty through the Department of Agriculture.
Instead of putting ongoing conservation efforts at risk, Hadley and other MDC officials hope hunters and landowners will report any feral hog sighting to their local MDC office or conservation agent. He said hunters pursuing other game may kill feral hogs if they happen upon them, but he cautioned that anyone who processes or handles feral hog meat should wear quality latex gloves while doing so.
Hadley encourages folks to report anyone releasing hogs through the Operation Game Thief Hotline, 1 (800) 392-1111. For more information on the fight against feral hogs in Missouri go online to mdc.mo.gov or call the MDC’s Ozark Regional Office at (417)255-9561.