© 2024 Connecticut Public

FCC Public Inspection Files:
WPKT · WRLI-FM · WEDW-FM · Public Files Contact
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Why Banning Hunting May Be A Better Way To Control The Feral Hog Population


Across the country, feral hogs are causing big problems. Wild pigs cause more than $2.5 billion in damages each year when they root up land and crops. As Seth Bodine of member station KOSU reports, while some states encourage hunting, others have come up with a surprising way to try to control the population.

SETH BODINE, BYLINE: It's estimated that there are more than 6 million feral hogs across the country. And they can be huge, weighing up to 200 pounds - about the same as a Great Dane. The damage they cause can be extensive.

DYLON SCHOONOVER: It's a menace, and they don't do nothing but tear up your property.

BODINE: That's Dylon Schoonover, a hunting guide at Hog Wild Preserve in Purcell, Okla. Oklahoma's one of the states that still encourages hunting to help control the population.


BODINE: On a rainy day, Schoonover is leading Todd Kissinger on a hunt. After zigzagging through the woods for more than an hour, they see a group of hogs and he starts to make oinking noises to lure them closer.

SCHOONOVER: I told you there's a bunch of pigs in here.


SCHOONOVER: (Imitating pig).

BODINE: Kissinger came here from Kansas just for this hunt. As a farmer and rancher in Mulvane, Kan., he understands how damaging some wildlife can be.

KISSINGER: We have huge flocks of geese that come in on our wheat fields, and they will mow it down. I mean, they will just eat it down to the bare dirt. So I can only imagine what a bunch of hogs will do when that's what their deal is to do 24/7 - is to eat, root and tear up.

BODINE: But allowing hunting can be a double-edged sword. Dale Nolte heads the USDA's Feral Swine Program. One of the problems is that people move hogs around to different areas to incentivize hunting opportunities.

DALE NOLTE: One of the big struggles we have is this - what seems to be a constant release of animals back into areas where they've been removed or into new areas.

BODINE: In the Midwest, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska already have restrictions on hunting feral hogs. Sam Wilson with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission says when you allow hunting, it's actually harder to control the population.

SAM WILSON: The law seems counterintuitive at first because we're prohibiting people from hunting feral hogs. However, if you know anything about hunting and hunting culture, often the people who hunt deer, for instance, are interested in having good deer populations.

BODINE: The 2018 Farm Bill created funds for wildlife services to address hog problem areas, and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation started restricting hunting in those areas. But Eric Cowan, who works for the Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service in Oklahoma, says he runs into roadblocks trying to trap hogs on private land.

ERIC COWAN: We've got to have their permission, and there's a lot of people that don't - won't give us permission to work on their property.

BODINE: While states with growing wild hog populations are adding more restrictions, others like Texas and Oklahoma are still embracing the hunting of feral hogs. And hunting guides like Schoonover insist they're helping control the hogs.

SCHOONOVER: Just like a manager of a company manages the company and employees are employees, we manage populations, you know? And, in turn, we get to eat awesome, awesome meat.

BODINE: But guys like Schoonover might have a hard time finding a place to hunt as more and more states embrace hunting bans as a way to control populations.

For NPR News, I'm Seth Bodine in Oklahoma City.

(SOUNDBITE OF TRACE BUNDY'S "PORCH SWING") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Seth Bodine joined KOSU in June 2020, focusing on agriculture and rural issues.

Stand up for civility

This news story is funded in large part by Connecticut Public’s Members — listeners, viewers, and readers like you who value fact-based journalism and trustworthy information.

We hope their support inspires you to donate so that we can continue telling stories that inform, educate, and inspire you and your neighbors. As a community-supported public media service, Connecticut Public has relied on donor support for more than 50 years.

Your donation today will allow us to continue this work on your behalf. Give today at any amount and join the 50,000 members who are building a better—and more civil—Connecticut to live, work, and play.