Hogs drive landowners wild

Published 6:32 pm Monday, March 29, 2010

Steve Wallace monitors the population of the feral hogs on hisproperty in Bogue Chitto, saying they don’t bother him too much aslong as they don’t get into his clover patches.

“I’m not a farmer, I’m just growing timber mostly, so it doesn’thurt me a lot unless they get in the clover patches and food plotsfor the deer,” he said.

Wallace said he has two primary sows on his land that have twolitters each per year. He said they watch the pigs grow, and thenwhen the time comes, they hunt them.

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“I’ve probably got about 25 right now, and that’s not a lot, but Idon’t have a real big place either,” he said. “It’s probably toomany for that small a place. A little later when winter comes we’llshoot them from the deer stand and eat them.”

But not everyone is at peace with their wild hogs like Wallace is.Mississippi Forestry Commission Service Forester Howard Stognersaid not only has he heard a lot of complaints about the hogs andthe vast damage they can do with their rooting, he has also hadpersonal experience with them.

“On my Walthall County property, I have had to replant three timesbecause they rooted up the pine trees,” he said. “Also, they’ll rubup against the trees to get the lice of them, and it tears the barkoff, and that’ll reduce the value of your trees.”

And what makes the destruction worse, Stogner said, is that theferal pigs will tear up the land to the point that maintenanceequipment can get broken when it’s used to work the land.

“Not only can it affect big equipment, it does a lot of damage tothe environment,” Stogner said. “They can go out and make what’scalled a pig wallow in the wetlands and do damage to the wetlandsby doing that. Ecologically, they can damage the habitat.”

And they’re a nightmare for farmers.

“Wild pigs are ruining crops all over the state,” MSU Department ofWildlife assistant extension professor Bronson Strickland said.”They can get on a farm and root up entire crop rows in just onenight. They can dig up almost every single seed in a field. Theyaren’t picky; they get into soybeans, corn and most recently,peanut farms.”

Stogner said the primary problems in Lincoln County that he’s heardabout are located in the southern half of the county, where therehas been quite a bit of damage reported.

“Down in Bogue Chitto they’ve had a lot of problems with wild hogsrooting up their trees and what they’ve planted,” he said. “Butthere are also problems with them going in and just destroyingroads, food plots, that sort of thing.”

And while many people who have grown up on farms are used to theidea of pigs and are not intimidated by them, Stogner said thesepigs are not to be taken lightly. They are also verydangerous.

“I would not go near one without a big caliber gun. Sometimesthey’ll run away, but a sow with piglets can be just like a mamabear,” Stogner said. “They’ll attack, and if you just wound one,you’ve got a definite problem on your hands. Then if you let themgo, that problem is someone else’s.”

In 2007, a law was passed that made hunting wild hogs year-roundlegal, with the only restrictions coming during established gameseasons when they must be hunted with the weapon that is in season.But if a landowner applies for a nuisance animals permit,landowners, leaseholders and their designated agents can hunt thepigs day or night, without restrictions.

Strangely enough, today’s feral hogs are kind of like the Kudzuthat also grows freely and reproduces in record rates all over thestate, said Strickland. They started off as something man thoughthe had under control.

“Pigs are thought to have first been introduced to the UnitedStates by Hernando DeSoto during his North American explorations,”he said. “Today, most wild pigs seen in Mississippi are feral, frompreviously domesticated swine. Studies have linked some wild pigsback to feral-domestic and feral-Russian hybrids.”