I realize that even though the Ethics Roundtable is going pretty well, I haven’t been posting all that much the last couple of weeks. I really need to go hunting.
There’s a lot going on out there in the world of hogs and hunting, so how about we take a quick look around to see who’s doing what?
First of all, my friend and fellow Skinny Moose blogger, Moose, has been covering the recent upswing in feral hog stories back in North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park. According to this article, the Eurasian hogs that have been there for decades are now being supplemented by feral hogs, which may or may not have been released by hunters. They’re being blamed for significant damage to the Smoky Mountain ecosystem, and the park system folks are trying hard to come up with a solution. Moose also had another story earlier about more hogs in the Tarheel State, this time in the central part of the state. They’re spreading fast!
Down in South Carolina, feral hogs have been around for a while, but the State is apparently ready to do something drastic, at least with the animals living on one of the coastal islands. According to this article in the Myrtle Beach Sun Times, the State will be bringing in hunters to control the population of hogs on North Island, a small barrier island on the ocean side of Winyah Bay. Barrier islands are generally small, delicate ecosystems that provide nesting and shelter for many sea birds, sea turtles, and other creatures. I can see where a burgeoning wild hog population would be unwelcome there.
“Feral hogs have continued to multiply on the island, causing destruction to the landscape and native plants, jeopardizing the nesting success of ground-nesting birds as well as sea turtle nests scattered along the beaches of (the island),’’ said Jamie Dozier, wildlife biologist with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
DNR officials hope the hunts can put a major dent in the hog population and help preserve the island. The hunts are part of an overall hog removal project on the Yawkey Wildlife Center. The agency will allow three, two-day hog hunts with dogs to take place on North Island only in February. The weekend hunts are scheduled for Feb. 12-13, 19-20 and 26-27 from sunrise to sunset only. North Island is only accessible after crossing Winyah Bay by boat and contains 1,410 acres of uplands and 1,703 acres of marsh.
So all you SC hunters, here’s an opportunity to get in some hog hunting, fill your freezers, and help out the environment all in a weekend or two! Step up!
Heading all the way over to Texas, a quick glance of recent news stories about wild hogs and boar shows a stack of articles like this one, all clamoring about the continued spread of these animals across the state. The tone is almost always the same:
Feral hogs root and trample for acorns and other food, sometimes taking out large areas of crops or pasture. They are omnivorous and will also eat eggs, particularly those of ground-nesting turkeys, as well as small animals. The hogs are blamed for more than $52 million in losses to agriculture in the state each year, and are also blamed for water quality problems.
They can pass along diseases like brucellosis and pseudorabies (not related to rabies) to other wild and domestic animals. Tests conducted for the Texas Animal Health Commission show that about 20 percent of the hogs tested carried pseudorabies and about 10 percent carried brucellosis.
These concerns are very real, and have led Texas to allow some pretty harsh measures to control the spread, including night hunting and even aerial depredation. The war is on!
What’s being done? Well, many things as I’ve called out here before. I know it’s a hot topic in a lot of places, and a lot of folks are talking. There’s a Wild Pig Conference scheduled for April, in Pensacola, Florida… another state that’s currently “under seige” by feral pigs. Here’s what it’s all about:
Damage caused by wild pigs is one of the greatest concerns to wildlife biologists and managers today. Wild pigs have the potential to cause ecological and economical destruction far surpassing any other invasive exotic vertebrate. The adaptive and prolific nature of these animals along with their capabilities for widespread devastation places their management as one of the top priorities for wildlife scientists. The International Wild Pig Conference is the only forum in the world that provides federal, state, and private stakeholders a venue to discuss biological, financial, and social implications specific to wild pig subsistence in our ecosystems. The conference will assemble experienced managers as well as those new to the wild pig industry in a professional, educational atmosphere.
(NOTE: If any magazine editors or wealthy benefactors are reading this right now, I could sure use a sponsor to cover my costs to attend this conference.)
That’s about it for right now. I’ve got some hunts coming up soon, so maybe I can finally get back to what I love… and write about something more fun than ethics debates or lead-free ammo!