Farmers, landowners, be alert for feral hogs

Farmers, landowners, be alert for feral hogs

Author: Kay Shipman

Published: February 28, 2019

Farmers and landowners, especially those in Pike County, should watch for and report suspected feral hogs, said Bradley Wilson with USDA Wildlife Services.

Feral hogs damage crops, pasture and other natural resources. They carry diseases and parasites that can impact people, livestock, pets and wildlife.

Pike County “is the only known feral swine population confirmed in Illinois so far,” Wilson told FarmWeek. As far as wildlife officials know, the Pike County feral hog population is isolated and small.

A farmer may find rooting damage or “small craters that turn up,” Wilson said. Sometimes, photographic evidence comes from trail cameras, he added.

“Call, even if you’re not sure (if it’s feral swine) so we can verify it,” Wilson said. He also encouraged turkey hunters, who return to the field in April, to watch for feral swine damage.

Previously, feral swine populations were confirmed in Fulton County and the contiguous counties of Fayette, Marion and Clay. However, Wildlife Services has not confirmed any feral swine there since March 2016, and “to the best of our knowledge,” believes those populations were eradicated, Wilson said.

In addition to their destructive and dangerous nature, feral hogs are also prolific. Sows may have two litters of five to 10 litters of piglets each year. Gilts may begin breeding as young as six months of age.

Farmers and landowners can find assistance from USDA Wildlife Services and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). Officials will help determine if true feral hogs are present, provide trapping equipment and effectively remove the animals.

Under state law, feral swine may only be legally hunted during gun deer season. Landowners must apply to IDNR for a nuisance wildlife permit to shoot a feral hog outside deer season.

For more information or to make a report, call USDA Wildlife Services at 866-487-3297 or IDNR at 815-369-2414.

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