Feral hog sightings on the rise in Southwest Louisiana

Feral Hog Sightings

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - After a deadly feral hog attack in the Houston area, recent feral hog sightings in Southwest Louisiana have sparked major concern.

The invasive species has become quite the problem for home and landowners in Southwest Louisiana in recent years.

According to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Feral hogs (Sus scrofa) are present in all 64 parishes in Louisiana. Louisiana’s population is estimated at 700,000.

“They come in right at dusk and they did all this damage in about 30 minutes to an hour,” said Moss Bluff resident, Phillip Busby.

Philip Busby’s yard has become a sort of playground for wild hogs.

"They came in on the west side of my property between my house and my creek and just tore the whole area up..my first reaction was, 'I'm going to trap them."

Phillip Busby lives near Bozo Road in Moss Bluff. He said in November, a group of hogs destroyed his yard. Since then, he’s invested in technology in addition to the help of local “hog control” to keep them away.

Busby said in areas like Moss Bluff, Wild hogs are terrorizing yards and even causing damage to local crops. However, the issue isn’t just in Moss Bluff.

Feral Hog Facts (courtesy of LDWF)

  • Feral hogs uproot both planted and naturally regenerated coniferous and hardwood seedlings. Additionally, their heavy consumption of hard mast significantly reduces natural forest regeneration.
  • They increase erosion and shed coliform bacteria into waterways.
  • Feral hogs heavily impact agriculture, uprooting planted seeds, destroying mature crops and uprooting hayfields making hay cutting difficult to impossible.
  • LDWF surveillance testing of over 1,000 feral swine statewide revealed that 5 percent were serologically positive to Brucella antigen (Swine Brucellosis).

Local tactical hunter John Wolford said when it comes to wild hogs, his company, Wolford Tactical Hunting, captured at least 20 in the month of November. Annually, they capture hundreds of wild hogs from areas as far west as Carlyss down to Lake Arthur.

“Literally, they’re on the rise," said Wolford "With their reproduction rate, the problem is going to get worse as far as numbers are concerned.”

Gestation is 114 days and feral sows can have 2 litters per year averaging 6 piglets per litter. Statisticians have determined that 75 percent of the population must be harvested to maintain a static population.

After a recent deadly feral hog attack near Houston, it leads some to ask how often these attacks happen. Wolford said in most cases, it’s pretty rare.

“That case has sparked a lot of national attention. Even though it’s a rare case that someone will be attacked by one unless you’re in the right situation.”

According to the USDA, feral hogs are ranked as one of the 100 worst invasive species in the world--causing millions of dollars in damage to farmers and landowners across the state. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) concludes feral pigs cause at least $1.5 billion in damages and control costs each year.

Government officials said the pig’s geographic range is expanding and its populations are increasing nationally. Over 6 million feral swine have been found in 32 states, the USDA says in a video on its website.

As for now, no injuries have been reported in our area, but Wolford says to keep in mind one simple rule if you happen to come in contact with one.

“Don’t try to approach them don’t put yourself in a situation where they’ll feel the need to defend themselves or their young,” said Wolford.

Many methods have been used over the decades to control hog populations, and some have greatly evolved with the advance of technology. With the options of new and old methods, Wolford said we currently have a lot to choose from—hunting, trapping, snaring, running dogs and aerial gunning, simply put.

Residents holding a valid hunting license who wish to trap feral hogs themselves can do so using a cage or corral traps, which must have an opening in the top of the trap that is no smaller than 22 inches x 22 inches or 25 inches in diameter.

A trapping license is required for the use of snares. Please note that it is not legal to transport live feral hogs without first registering as a feral swine authorized transporter with the Board of Animal Health, and feral hogs may only be transported to an approved facility.

Wolford explained that there are pros and cons to most methods, and the largest impacts are usually made when multiple methods are used in conjunction with one another.

“Pigs are wickedly intelligent—they’re one of the smartest animals we encounter,” Wolford said. “If I have a group of pigs and I shoot one, then I’ve educated the rest of them. And it may be a while before they come back to that area. Wolford also said feral hogs are most active at night.

Anyone taking part in these activities at night is required to notify the parish sheriff’s office 24 hours in advance of any such hunt.

Signs that feral hogs have been in your yard include markings on trees, fences, and rocks with mud and hair and also when the soil has been plowed.

If you notice a feral hog problem in your neighborhood, you can contact Wolford Tactical Hunting at 337-513-8691.

You can also report any sightings by calling the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

However, LDWF does NOT provide nuisance animal control or removal services, but they do permit individuals (Nuisance Wildlife Control Operators) to provide these services. These trappers are not compensated by the Department, and as with any pest control, there may be a fee.

LDWF maintains a list of over 100 nuisance animal trappers located across the state at www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wildlife/nwco.

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