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Many have said that it's only a matter of time before feral hogs reach the the Midwest. It looks like that time may be now.
While there have been a number of stories of feral hogs in Wisconsin in the last several years, two recent reports of hog sightings have the state DNR reiterating its "shoot on sight" policy for wild pigs.
The two reports coming out of Washburn County in the northwest part of the state were judged to be reliable, and add to the concern that wild pigs will eventually become as significant a problem in the Midwest as they are currently in southern states.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has made it clear that the state "promotes aggressive removal anywhere feral pigs are reported."
Mike Zeckmeister, DNR Northern District Wildlife Supervisor, made no bones about it: "Go ahead and poke them. We want them dead as soon as possible."
"We want to make sure that they don't become common," Zeckmeister also said, "because every other state that has established wild pig populations, they regret that they didn't do something earlier about it. Because once they become established, they are very hard to control."
All that Wisconsin requires to take a wild hog is a small game or deer hunting license. Landowners may shoot feral hogs on their property without a license. Hogs can be taken by any method, year-round, day or night, and there is no bag limit.
The DNR does ask that hunters who do kill or even see any wild pigs submit a Feral Pig Sighting/Harvest/Contact Report, which may be found on the DNR website. The state views the exotic and invasive critters as "significant threats to both the environment and to agricultural operations."
Zeckmeister continues, noting that escaped domestic pigs become feral problem animals with little effort. "They physically change; they get hairy and grow tusks and everything. And they definitely can survive a Wisconsin winter."
Feral hogs do have some notable physical characteristics that should make identification a simple matter. They are medium- to large-sized animals, with an average weight of around 180 pounds for adults, although they can grow to much larger weights. Short legs, long pointed snouts, and bristly hair-covered bodies--including the tail--are the main identifying features.
For a more thorough and detailed account of the physical characteristics of feral hogs, check this Extension site. But even the DNR suggests that it is better to err on the side of eliminating a likely feral hog than allowing one to escape.
"The goal is," says Zeckmeister, "with hunting seasons coming up, that if someone is in their bow stand they won't hesitate, wondering if they can shoot them. Go ahead and do it. An ounce of prevention here can help a lot."
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