Dear Mr. Smith:
It seems feral hogs are becoming a hot topic lately as within the past weeks I have read several articles similar to yours in the Feb. 19 Southwest Farm Press on the problems hogs cause and the difficulties in controlling them.
A number of years ago we had a problem in our farming community in New Mexico caused by an abundance of pheasant and overabundance of hunters trespassing on private land. Farmers saw pheasants as a problem because they attracted hunters eager to be out in the field. Conflicts occurred between the two groups because of trespassing, damage to property, etc.
Our volunteer fire department solved the problem by organizing controlled pheasant hunting. For a modest fee hunters could purchase a permit which gave them access to any of the land of farmers who chose to participate. After we worked through the glitches the first season or two, we had nearly 100 percent participation from the farmers in our fire department service area. The system gave hundreds of hunters friendly access to land that had been off limits before. It generated thousands of dollars through the years for the community which built a strong fire department and a nice community building shared by all and it improved relations between the farmers and the hunters.
Not being from an area inhabited by feral hogs I cannot offer specifics on how to apply this formula to solving the hog problem. But, I do know that there are thousands of potential hunters who would love to help solve the problem. If organizations such as rural fire departments or groups of farmers took on the project with the idea of turning it into a profit opportunity, the problem could be solved or at least reduced without help from government entities. Rather, it can be made a benefit to communities.
Our experience has been that hunters are a very responsible group of people. When they know what is expected of them and they are made to feel welcome by the farmers they will bend over backwards to reciprocate with good behavior. The key to our success was we kept the permit fees low so that we were family friendly. The family atmosphere almost assures you will attract well-mannered hunters who want to make the hunt safe and enjoyable for all.
It will just take someone or ones to be innovative and energetic to make such a program work with feral hogs.
Just an experience I thought I would pass along.