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Hog war continues with big fines for wild swine
Jan 24, 2013 12:00 am
Two Middle Tennessee men were recently cited for violating the TWRA’s tough new regulations against possessing wild hogs, part of the Agency’s continued crackdown.
One of the men was fined $4,994 and the other $1,654 plus court costs and other penalties.
In its ongoing effort to root out more violators, the TWRA is offering a reward of $3,500 for information leading to the apprehension of anyone in violation of regulations that prohibit the possession, transportation or release of wild hogs.
“We’re headed in the right direction,” says TWRA Big Game Coordinator Chuck Yoest who oversees the hog-control program that was launched in 2010. “But this is something that we’ll be dealing with for a very long time.”
The TWRA’s goal is to control the wild hog population where the animals already exist, and to stop their spread into new areas. Much of the spread of hogs has been due to stocking by hunters who want to establish populations of wild hogs for future hunting.
Yoest says the TWRA is taking a three-pronged approach to wild hog control:
- 1. Eliminate the stocking of hogs by cracking down on violators.
- 2. Increase landowner opportunities to control hogs on their property through hunting and trapping.
- 3. Educate the public – especially outdoorsmen -- about why it is necessary to control wild hogs (spread of disease, crop damage, environmental damage).
“As more people understand what we’re trying to do, and why, the program is becoming more accepted,” Yoest says.
There was a backlash among some hunters last year when the TWRA abruptly eliminated wild-hog hunting seasons. Heated public meetings drew as many as 800 hunters, and acts of vandalism – attributed to irate hog hunters -- occurred on the Catoosa Wildlife Management Area.
The Agency compromised by restoring some hog hunting on Catoosa, and as Yoest noted, made it easier for private land-owners and their guests to kill hogs on their property.
One problem the TWRA had to overcome was explaining why it abruptly changed its stance on wild hogs. Decades ago the Agency stocked wild hogs in Tennessee, and for decades it managed and promoted them as challenging Big Game animals equal to deer, bears and wild turkeys. Suddenly that same Agency declared wild hogs a nuisance and launched a program to exterminate them.
The TWRA admits it made a mistake by stocking the hogs.
“We eventually realized they couldn’t be controlled through hunting,” Yoest said. “They grew out of control.”
One of the concerns about wild hogs is the diseases they sometimes carry. The diseases can be transmitted to domestic hogs – a potential catastrophe for the state’s pork industry – as well as to humans. That concern, on top of crop damage and environmental damage, prompted the TWRA’s change of heart about hogs.
What seemed like a good idea in the 1950s – stocking wild hogs for hunting – turned out to be a mistake. The TWRA is determined to correct it.