By EMILE P. LeBLANC, DMAP Coordinator
Since attending last May’s Feral Hog Conference in Mobile, Ala., I polled each regional manager for a relative population estimate of feral hogs in their respective regions by parish.
Lafayette Parish was the only one believed to have no feral hogs. The fact that this parish is surrounded by parishes with moderate hog populations suggests that it won’t be long before they are there too.
Highest numbers generally occur across extreme Southeast Louisiana.
It should be noted that regardless of hog population size, hogs are not evenly distributed across most parishes.
Some people consider feral hogs as excellent tablefare and regard them as a challenging game species to pursue with weapon or dog. Individuals who enjoy running hogs with dogs can be found throughout the state.
Hog hunting is gaining popularity in Louisiana with a number of game-farm operations offering wild hog hunts to the public. Occasionally, hogs escape from these facilities and become established on adjoining lands.
Some individuals even have taken it upon themselves to catch and relocate hogs where they have not previously been introduced. This practice is strongly discouraged by LDWF as well as the Department of Agriculture.
Additionally, some people would like to see legislation making this illegal.
Considering their reproductive capacity and the damage that they can cause, hogs will become more problematic over time.
Many landowners object to hogs causing problems such as rooting up crop fields, degrading water quality and endangering livestock through disease transmission.
Hogs compete with native species such as white-tailed deer and turkey for mast. That competition can become especially serious during poor mast-production years.
Boar hogs can become aggressive during periods of mating activity, and a number of human attacks are documented.
These are very intelligent and powerful animals, and keeping them confined and controlled can be a significant challenge. Once daytime hunting pressure is placed on them, they will quickly become nocturnal. In order to control hog populations, landowners must be relentless in their efforts.
At least two types of control methods can be employed to keep hog populations in check:
• Trapping. This should be a year-round effort to remove as well as monitor hog populations throughout an area. Research on trap design and efficiency showed that larger teardrop-shaped corral traps work best because they don’t confine hogs as much as the smaller and more mobile box-type traps. It also noted that the lower portion of the traps should have meshed wire small enough to keep small pigs from escaping. Elimination of small piglets as well as larger hogs has been identified as a key to controlling the population.
• Year-round hunting. A tactic used by many landowners is a shoot-on-sight philosophy. In some of the lower coastal parishes, airboats can be used, especially during periods of flooding or extra high tides, to locate and kill hogs that become concentrated on higher ground. Some hunters will also use dogs to run hogs from thick cover where they are generally found.