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Agricultural News

Feral Swine- They're Destructive, Prolific But Are an Agri Tourism Boon for Rural Oklahoma

Wed, 01 Jul 2015 06:52:12 CDT

Feral Swine- They're Destructive, Prolific But Are an Agri Tourism Boon for Rural Oklahoma The Oklahoma Board of Agriculture convened a public forum on Tuesday in Oklahoma City to hear from stakeholders that have an interest in the growing feral swine population found in Oklahoma. In a public notice about the forum, the Department said "The continued expansion of feral hogs throughout Oklahoma with their destructive nature and prolific reproduction is a concern for many agriculturalists and landowners. This forum is being hosted by the Department of Agriculture to give the public input on solutions and proposed solutions to this concern. Topics the Board of Ag is asking participants to address include specific proposals that were discussed this last legislative session."

The Board added that they had a couple of overriding goals. The first is to reduce the number of feral hogs in Oklahoma and the second is to reduce the number of "trans located feral hogs."

The forum attracted about 150 people to the meeting room at OKC Langston for the two hour gathering. Many of those present are involved in hunting businesses that capture and move feral hogs onto their property- and charge hunters for the right to come onto their land and hunt wild hogs. A typical hunt is for two days and will cost from $300 to $500 per hunter.

State Secretary of Agriculture Jim Reese told Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays that he was wanting the State Board to hear directly from hunting ranch operators and other supporters of wild boar hunting, as well as those who represent the domestic hog industry and production agriculture. Reese says the board must decide whether to continue a moratorium on new hunting ranch licenses in the state and how to best regulate movement of feral swine from one location to another.

Crop producers can face thousands of dollars worth of damage from wild hogs that are on their land- and the goal stated by the Board of Agriculture as they called on citizens to attend the forum- "to reduce the number of feral hogs in Oklahoma" is an important issue for landowners.

Joshua Gaskamp of the Noble Foundation provided those in attendence with an overview of the feral swine problem in the state, saying while the actual population of feral hogs in the state is unknown- estimates show it could be above the one million head level. He told the audience that trying to stay ahead of the growing number of wild hogs is tough- as it takes a 70% control and reduction of the feral swine population annually in order to keep the overall herd from growing in numbers.In other words, if you are not reducing the number of feral swine by 70% in an area- it is very likely that the number of wild hogs will be growing from year to year in that location. (click here to hear Gaskamp talk with Ron Hays about feral swine in the state.)

Roy Lee Lindsey of the Oklahoma Pork Council was the first person to offer comments to the State Board. He said that for the domestic livestock industry- this is an issue all about animal health. For hog producers, Lindsey says they are very worried about hogs that are known to be likely to be infected with a variety of transmittable diseases being allowed to move around the state in a trailer, with no tracking or control. He told Hays that he sees little interest on the part of wild hog hunting interests to step up and make domestic herd health a priority. Ron Hays also talked with Roy Lee Lindsey- their conversation is available here.

However- Matt Napper, who owns and operates the Shiloh Ranch Hunting Camp south of Ada says that is not true. He claims that the State officials and the ag industry have not included them in trying to establish a win- win solution where hogs can be moved to secure facilities, where a hunter can come in and kill a wild boar. He proposed establishing an alliance of all those interested in coming together and reducing the feral swine population in the state and allowing hunting ranches to make a profit as an Agri- Tourism destination for hundreds of out of state hunters each year. Hays also spoke with Napper after his presentation to the Board- you can hear their Q&A by clicking or tapping here.

Napper did warn that the tagging of feral swine when caught, as well as having to get a blood sample in order to check for diseases, is a non starter and is not acceptable to those in the hunting and/or transport business.

Farm Director Ron Hays has an audio piece on the Public Forum- click on the LISTEN BAR below to hear his complete overview.


Ron Hays offers an overview of the Oklahoma Board of Ag Public Forum on Feral Swine in OKC
right-click to download mp3


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