Feral hogs cause an estimated $1.5 billion in damage to the country’s agriculture and environment. Researchers at one point eyed the porcine pests in helping spread Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv) to domestic herds.
Stopping the invasive creatures is an incredible hurdle. Some states have even turned to culling feral hogs from aircraft. In 2014, scientists began testing sodium nitrate, the same preservative used to cure bacon, in the form of gummy bears as a potential method of poisoning the animals.
Recently, the Missouri Department of Conservation announced it would be illegal to hunt feral pigs on state land beginning on Sept. 30. This ban does not apply to hunting feral hogs on private land, which makes up nearly all of the state according to the Kansas City Star.
It may sound counterintuitive, but here’s why: Hunting feral hogs made groups scatter. As Wildlife Division Chief Jason Sumners told MissouriNet, the key to eradicating the animals from the state is to trap them in groups.
“We’re kind of at a point where we believe we have an opportunity to effectively eliminate them from Missouri. If we were to wait a number of years before instituting some pretty dramatic measures, then we may lose that opportunity. We are on the cusp of being able to do something important here,” said Sumners.
Officials plan to use traps baited with corn for several weeks to attract the target group of hogs. Monitored by video throughout the process, a staff member deploys the traps remotely when the time is right. A little patience pays off.
Not everyone is buying the decision though. Some hunters say the move will fail miserably.
"Four years from now, if this ban continues, hog numbers will double, if not triple," hog hunter Jonathan Allgood told the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader. "I think the conservation department is creating a monster by taking hunters out of the equation and relying on traps. Hog traps are effective at first, but hogs are one of the smartest animals I've ever hunted and they learn real quick how to avoid traps, once they've seen them."
Another hunter, David Dodson, said the regulations don’t make sense.
"In their regulations book they say kill 'em, help rid the land of 'em, they harm land, crops," he said. "And now they don't want them hunted by people who take a lot of hogs, but also when they take the hogs out, they are feeding their families, and other families.”
Similar efforts to ban feral hog hunting in other states, such as Kansas, have been successful in eradicating the animals.