There will be no more shooting of wild hogs on public lands in Missouri.
New regulations by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) now prohibit the hunting of wild hogs on conservation areas or other lands owned, leased, and managed by the MDC.
Effective September 30th, the decision follows a extensive public comment period on how wild hogs should be handled in the state. Once the new regulations take affect, penalties for illegal hog hunting on MDC lands could include fines and loss of hunting privileges.
Missouri's new stance on feral hog hunting is a change of direction when compared to other states facing the same problem, where hunting is typically encouraged. Some research even suggests that when hog hunting is allowed in a state, hog numbers actually go up. The reasons cited for this claim are the incentives for illegal releases of hogs and the building of a hog hunting "industry" in the state, leading to a economy for hog hunting.
"The regulation change prohibiting hog hunting on conservation lands is a direct result of some misguided individuals disrupting trapping efforts by MDC staff," said MDC Wildlife Division Chief Jason Sumners in an inteview. "MDC staff set large, corral-type traps on areas where there are known feral hogs. They then bait the area with corn for several days or weeks to attract the targeted group of hogs, get them used to the surroundings, and get them concentrated in the trap before triggering it. This work takes weeks, with the goal being to trap the entire group of hogs. After weeks of work to catch the sounder of hogs, we then get an individual who finds out about the site, shows up at some point, and shoots a hog or two. The rest of the group then scatters and moves to a new location. As a result, weeks of work have been wasted and new areas now have feral hogs."
Instead of establishing themselves as the next hog hunting mecca, Missouri hopes to curtail what they see has a inevitable population explosion of wild hogs should hog hunting gain popularity in the state. Rather than having the public shoot at the opportunistic hog, the MDC's plan in controlling the species is through aggressive trapping of hog sounders within large pens.
The MDC know that they cannot do this alone, though. They encourage hunters and other citizens to report hog sitings to local MDC offices, where staff can determine how best to capture and eliminate the entire group of hogs in any given area.