Controlling Feral Hogs in Arkansas
Where are feral hogs in Arkansas?
Feral hogs (Sus scrofa) are prevalent in many portions of the southeastern United States and Arkansas. Feral hogs are domesticated swine released accidentally or purposefully for sport hunting. After a generation or two, progeny of a domesticated hog appear untamed, with thickened fur and tusks. Sows produce litters (average six piglets) starting at six months of age and have few predators after reaching maturity.
Their feeding and wallowing behaviors create a number of problems, including agriculture crop loss, pasture damage, wildlife habitat loss, water pollution (e.g., sedimentation, transmission of E. coli), and disease transmission to livestock and in rare cases, people. Non-native feral hogs compete directly with native wildlife species for limited food supplies, disturb habitat, and consume small mammals and reptiles, the young of larger mammals (e.g., fawns), and eggs and young of ground-nesting birds (e.g., bobwhites, wild turkey).
Although small herds of feral hogs have lived in Arkansas for generations, the feral hog population in the state has increased and expanded dramatically in recent years. Many believe this expansion into previously uninhabited areas is from hog releases by sport hunters. The National Feral Swine Mapping System is updated monthly using data collected from state wildlife agencies and USDA APHIS Wildlife Services. These maps illustrate the dramatic expansion of feral hogs throughout North America.
Controlling the prolific feral hog has proven difficult. Feral hogs are very adaptive and learn to avoid hunters and traps. Hogs are very mobile, and will range for miles in search of food or mates. Most feral hogs are nocturnal, and therefore unseen. Signs of feral hogs are rooting, tracks, wallows, nests or beds, tree and post rubs.
Control options for feral hogs
- Shooting one or two feral hogs does little to control their numbers, and typically "educates" others in the group to avoid humans. If implementing a trapping program, do not shoot and disburse hogs away from your trapping area.
- Corral trapping, in which multiple hogs are captured at one time, can be very effective, although trapping requires a significant investment in equipment and commitment. Single traps capturing only one or two hogs "educate" non-trapped hogs and do little to lower the population. Trap-shy hogs soon reproduce and problems return. Single or small group traps which do not capture the entire sounder are not recommended.
- Snaring can be used to supplement corral trapping. Snares can be placed around corral fences and along trails. Beware that snares can capture non-target wildlife and require frequent checks.
- Some professionals recommend hunting with dogs, which can be effective if hunters are trusted to kill all captured hogs and not release some for additional sport.
None of these control methods has proven 100% effective. Using several strategies, such as corral trapping followed by shooting and dog-hunting stragglers, may increase chances of success.
What are the laws in Arkansas regarding feral hogs?
- It is legal to shoot or trap feral hogs, day or night, on privately-owned land.
- Public lands including Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) have different rules about hunting feral hogs and therefore check the rules first before removing hogs.
- Feral hogs must be killed immediately upon capture.
- It is illegal to possess, sell, transport, or release hogs into the wild other than to a terminal facility approved by the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission.
For information about legal aspects of hunting and trapping feral hogs, contact the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission or USDA Wildlife Services at 870-673-1121, or read the fact sheet Laws and Regulations Governing Feral Hogs in Arkansas.
For rules about transporting hogs and terminal facilities, contact the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission.
Successfully capturing feral hogs requires a strategy
A common mistake is setting the trap where feral hogs are not present. Trail (game) cameras are important tools for determining trap placement. A camera will also indicate how many hogs are in the group or sounder, and of what size. This helps determine where to set the trap, the number of fence panels needed, and its strength. Fence panels with 4-inch squares or smaller are recommended for capturing smaller piglets. The next step is "training" feral hogs with bait to return regularly to the potential trap site. Once the trap is constructed, all feral hogs in the group should be observed quickly entering the trap on camera before the trigger is set. Removing the whole sounder is recommended to avoid educating uncaught hogs. Additional details are available from resources below.
Workshops are held periodically about feral hog control. For more information about feral hogs or upcoming workshops, contact your local county Extension office.
Arkansas Publications and Websites
Feral Hog Control in Arkansas Information about feral hogs and their life history, identifying sign, an overview of different control options, and tips and tricks for capturing and removing feral hogs from your property.
Although cellular trapping systems provide the greatest trapping efficiency, they can be cost prohibitive for some landowners wanting to control feral hogs on small acreages. This publication describes in detail a procedure for capturing feral hogs without educating them - while on a budget.
- Laws and Regulations Governing Feral Hogs in Arkansas
Laws governing feral hogs are regulated by the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission, with Arkansas Game and Fish Commission regulating hunting aspects.
Information about symptoms, treatment, transmission and safety measures concerning this disease.
Perceptions of County Agriculture Agents about Feral Hogs in Arkansas Results from a survey conducted in December 2013.
Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Feral hog hunting regulations Feral hog trap plans (flier) Wild Hog Working Group State Summary Report (2012)
Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission Arkansas Swine Regulations Carcass Disposal - Large Animal
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
|National eXtension Resources|
|The Jack H. Berryman Institute|
|Missouri Department of Conservation
|Mississippi State University|
|The Samuel Roberts Nobel Foundation
|Texas A&M AgriLife
USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service