New bill could open Missouri public lands to hog hunting.
Hunters in Missouri have not been able to hunt feral hogs on public lands for four years now but that could be changing again under a new bill filed by Republican Rep. Robert Ross.
The Springfield News-Leader reports Ross introduced the bill (HB 2427) at a House committee meeting earlier this week. The bill is co-sponsored by Chris Dinkins and Jeff Pogue. For years, the Missouri Department of Conservation's stance on the matter has been that trapping hogs is more effective than shooting them.
Ross didn't mince words in his criticism of the MDC.
"If they would shift their focus from making private landowners and hunters bad guys," Ross said. "There might actually be a chance to get these hogs under control and eventually eradicate them."
According to the Springfield News-Leader, Ross had plenty of support of his opinions. His bill drew praise from Rep. Sonya Anderson and several farmers who have been having problems with feral swine. Bruce Lindsey, a landowner in Shannon County has his property border public land, which limits his options on the animals who are doing destruction to his crops.
"If hogs come over and plow up my fields tonight and get back over tomorrow, I've no right to kill 'em," Lindsey told the committee. "Does that make sense? It doesn't to me."
Reynolds County, another place that has seen its share of hog problems recently, saw commissioner Joe Loyd agree that hunting in conjunction with trapping was likely the best solution.
"I'm not against trapping," Loyd said. "It is a viable means of eradication. But it's not the only means that it's going to take to get a handle on this."
However, the MDC maintains that allowing hunting wasn't as effective as trapping large groups all at once. MDC Deputy Director Aaron Jeffries said he spoke with officials from Texas, another state besieged with pigs, and that those officials said allowing hunting also started an industry that doesn't want the hog population to deflate.
"I guess 25 years of trapping and hunting, I don't know how much more proof you need that that doesn't work," Jeffries told the committee.
He says the MDC is also concerned about people releasing hogs into the wild illegally. The Department of Conservation wants a bill to increase the penalties for such a crime.
At the close of the meeting, nothing was voted upon, but it is expected there will be more hearings and discussion on the proposal in the future. We will keep an eye on HB 2427 as it progresses and will bring you the latest here at Wide Open Spaces.
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