Op/Ed: Feral Hogs Have to Go

This may be used as an op/ed or letter to the editor.

The average feral hog weighs a little more than 100 pounds – the biggest, about 400. And every one of them is hitting above their weight class when it comes to damaging Missouri’s natural resources and Missourians livelihoods. They’re an invasive species that is both a nuisance and a health risk.

Feral hogs’ rooting and feeding behavior contributes to soil erosion, reduced water quality and cases significant damage to waterways, cropland, pasture and hayfields. And not only do feral hogs earn the credit for such damage to land and waterways, they also have potential to spread disease and parasites to people, pets, livestock and wildlife – including Brucellosis, eradicated from Missouri’s pork industry more than 20 years ago.

We got to this point through recreational hog hunting – releasing an invasive species with no natural predators for sport, and allowing escaped stock to contribute to prolific breeding in the existing feral population. We’d be foolish to put the economics and traditions of sport above our responsibilities. With feral hogs such prolific breeders they can maintain their numbers in an area even with 70 percent yearly population loss, the responsible path forward is to eradicate this invasive species and close the door to reintroduction.

Feral hogs are a serious problem in Missouri and must be eradicated.

The Missouri Soybean Association is committed to working with conservation groups, agricultural organizations, and state and federal officials to eradicate this invasive species and end its negative impact to our communities, to our natural resources and to producers’ bottom line. The Association supports efforts led by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Wildlife Services and Missouri Department of Conservation to eradicate feral hogs on private and public land.

I’ll say it again – feral hogs are a serious problem in Missouri. Recreational hog hunting got us here. It’s time: eradicate the invasive species and close the door to reintroduction.

Gary Wheeler

Gary Wheeler is an avid hunter and outdoorsman. Originally from Risco, Mo., Wheeler and his family now reside in Jefferson City where he serves as CEO of the Missouri Soybean Association.