One of Missouri's largest private landowners is following the state's lead in seeking to eradicate feral hogs by trying to trap large groups of them rather than allowing them to be hunted.
The L-A-D Foundation plans to ban feral hog hunting on its property, the Springfield News-Leader reports. The foundation, dedicated to preserving land once logged too aggressively, owns 147,000 acres in southeast Missouri, much of it adjoining the Mark Twain National Forest.
The Missouri Department of Conservation believes trapping whole groups is the best way to eliminate feral hogs. It once encouraged people to shoot the hogs on sight, but now believes trapping is more effective.
Shooting hogs tends to scatter groups of them, making them harder to eliminate. The Department of Conservation no longer allows feral hog hunting on any of the lands it controls.
Foundation president Susan Flader said feral hogs have caused a lot of problems in the forest it manages, where the animals uproot land and compete with native wildlife for food. She said 86 feral hogs were trapped and killed there last year, and another 29 since April 10.
"We have a lot of border with the Mark Twain National Forest, and feral hogs are getting onto our land from Mark Twain forest," Flader said. "We've been dealing with them for decades."
The U.S. Forest Service recently announced it was considering banning feral hog hunting in the Mark Twain National Forest and planned to rely on targeted trapping of feral hogs to try to eliminate them. The Forest Service has been taking public comments about that policy change before making a decision.
It's illegal to release hogs into the wild, but the Department of Conservation believes some people have released hogs intentionally to develop a population that can be hunted. In Texas and other Southern states, feral hog populations have exploded and become nearly impossible to eradicate.