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Agricultural News

Ag Department's Wildlife Services Fighting Uphill Battle to Kill Wild Hogs

Thu, 17 Nov 2016 17:24:26 CST

Ag Department's Wildlife Services Fighting Uphill Battle to Kill Wild Hogs Soon after graduating as a member of the Luther High School Class of 1951, war took J.C. Goyer to Korea.

In February, cancer took Betty Mae, J.C.'s bride of 62 years and sweetheart since their sophomore year at Luther HS.

J.C. has faced challenges at various stages in his life.

Now, at 82-years-old this wheat and cattle producer with thick white hair parted left to right, is strongly determined not to allow feral swine to take away his hope. Goyer and Betty Mae raised a family of five children and countless cattle and crops on their farm. He's not about to let these hogs root up all that hard work and move on.

He's an example of ag producers across Oklahoma trying to keep feral swine from destroying their fields. Importantly, Goyer and other producers are not clutching to that hope alone.

Standing beside Goyer on this fall morning in the drive leading up to the farmhouse, and in this fight against feral swine, is Russell Anderson, a professional wildlife technician with the Wildlife Services division of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry (ODAFF).

"Within the last year, I have eliminated about 600 feral hogs in northeast Oklahoma County," Anderson said of this area. "A few dozen of those were eliminated on Mr. Goyer's land, and we're not done."

Standing in the drive, Anderson holds a laptop to show Goyer a gilt who visited a trap on his wheat pasture the night before. She came for the corn and wheat and as soon as others start visiting regularly with her, this buffet will be shut down.

"I can't start to tell you how much Russell has helped us," Goyer said. "He's come out here and helped eliminate these pigs. He's showed us how to set up a trap of our own, he's set up his trap, he's given us advice and they've brought in the helicopter to eliminate some hogs. He's just a big, big help.

"I saw an interview on TV with a farmer down in southwest Oklahoma. That man said he'd went through drought, fires, hail storms, floods and about every kind of disaster. He said he was always able to survive, barely, but, he wasn't sure he was going to survive these hogs. That's why this program to eliminate hogs is so important not just to me, but farmers all across this state."

The bigger picture   

Assistant State Wildlife Services Director Scott Alls said Wildlife Services has already eliminated about 8,675 feral swine in the 2016 calendar year. Alls said those numbers are expected to increase this fall and into winter as the foliage lessens providing the aerial approach a better look at feral swine.

Feral swine are a non-native invasive species to Oklahoma that detrimentally impacts agricultural production and natural resources in Oklahoma. Because of feral swine, citizens of Oklahoma suffer damage to crops, livestock and wildlife habitat. Feral swine pose a health risk to humans, livestock, companion animals and native wildlife. The department's goal is to render the state of Oklahoma free of feral swine.

Managing wildlife to reduce damage to agriculture and property, minimize threats to public health and safety, and help protect natural resources including endangered species is an important goal of ODAFF's Wildlife Services division.

The Wildlife Services program is cooperatively funded by the ODAFF, USDA/APHIS/Wildlife Services, Oklahoma counties, other state and federal agencies, city governments and private organizations.

Professional wildlife technicians and biologists employed by the Wildlife Services program strive to develop and use integrated wildlife damage management strategies that are biologically sound, and socially acceptable.

"You've got pigs"   

A little ways from the farm house, J.C. Goyer was having some custom hay baling done in one of his fields a couple years ago.

"The guy started cutting the hay and said, 'You've got pigs,' and I said, 'No, I don't,'" Goyer said. "He could tell, and he was right."

After accepting the fact that feral swine were on his property, Goyer told a friend, "I'm going to run them things off." The friend quickly replied, "They are going to wear you out." The friend was right. Goyer tried to get a handle on the situation, even stayed up at nights. He had no success.

"I've never seen anything so hard to hunt," Goyer said.

So he got in contact with Wildlife Services and teamed up with Russell Anderson.

They've eliminated several feral swine and the battle continues. Goyer had to re-plant large portions of one wheat field three times this year.

"They rooted up big patches of it, so I had to come in there and harrow all of that roughness down because I couldn't put my grain drill in there," Goyer said. "You can't just re-drill, re-drill, and re-drill without it costing you. In addition to the seed wheat, there's the tractor expense and the wear and tear on equipment."

The challenge is ongoing, but Goyer appreciates the fact he is not going it alone.

"Russell has stayed with us and I'm really proud of and high on this program to eliminate them," Goyer said.

If you are having an issue with feral swine, please contact Scott Alls, Assistant State Director of Wildlife Services, office, (405) 521-4039.

Source- Oklahoma Department of Agriculture



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