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Controlling Feral Hogs in Arkansas

Feral hogs (Sus scrofa) are everywhere in Arkansas. These non-native invaders likely escaped from a farm or were released for sport hunting. After a generation or two, progeny of a domesticated hog appear untamed, with thickened fur and tusks. Sows produce an average six piglets per litter when 8 to 13 months of age,with 1 to 2 litters per year, for a lifespan of 5 to 8 years. Other than hunters, resarch indicates feral hogs have few predators once past 10 to 15 pounds.   

Map of United States with shaded counties indicating where feral hogs occur

WOOO PIG SOOIE™ - Like domesticated swine, feral hogs display a variety of coat colors as this Arkansas feral sow with piglets. (Image courtesy Clint Turnage, USDA-APHIS Wildlife Services.)

 

 Why the fuss?

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).

Watch a video clip of a pasture rooted up by feral hogs

 

 

Although small herds of feral hogs have lived in Arkansas for generations, the feral hog population in the state has increased and expanded dramatically since the 1990's. 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 and mates. Most feral hogs are nocturnal, and therefore often unseen until signs appear. Signs of feral hogs are rooting, tracks, wallows, nests or beds, tree and post rubs.

Watch a video clip of a feral hog wallowing

Control options for feral hogs

  • Shooting a few feral hogs in a group does little to control their numbers and typically "educates" survivors to avoid humans. If implementing a trapping program, do not shoot or otherwise disturb hogs from your trapping area.
  • Corral trapping captures multiple hogs in a sounder or bachelor group at one time and is considered the most effective method for removing feral hogs. Trapping requires a strategy that involves a significant investment of time and equipment. Traps which capture only one feral hog or a portion of the group should be avoided, as non-trapped hogs are now "educated" to avoid traps. Trap-shy hogs soon reproduce and problems return. 
    • Baiting hogs with corn is a common practice for surveillance and trapping.  If baiting feral hogs inside the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Zone, check first with a local wildlife officer from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission about baiting rules and regulations. 
  • 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. Contact your local wildlife officer about laws regarding snares.
  • Hunting with dogs can remove single boars or stragglers who won't enter the trap. Because typically only one hog is removed at a time and the rest are scattered, it is not recommended for population control.
TRAPPED - Feral hogs captured in a corral trap.  (Image courtesy Billy Higgenbotham, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, bugwood.org.) 

None of these control methods has proven 100% effective. Using several strategies, such as corral trapping followed by shooting and dog-hunting stragglers, offers the best option for achieving population reduction at this time.  

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 federal refuges and Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) have different rules about feral hogs, and therefore check the rules first for where you plan to go.
  • Feral hogs must be killed immediately upon capture.  An exception is feral hogs which are captured on private property can be kept on that same property and not killed immediately.
  • 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.

 

Successfully capturing feral hogs requires a strategy . . .

A common mistake is setting a 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 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. After setting the trap, be patient. All hogs in the group should enter the trap quickly on camera before setting the trigger. Removing the whole sounder is recommended to avoid educating uncaught hogs.  Additional details are available from resources below.   

Click here for a video clip demonstrating the use of camera surveillance to detect hogs and observe behaviors

Workshops are held periodically about feral hog control.  For more information about feral hogs, upcoming workshops, or hosting a workshop in your community, contact your local county Extension office.

Arkansas Publications and Websites