Feral swine

The eradication of feral swine like these in Havasu National Wildlife Refuge could be aided in the future with the explored concept of incidental hunting.

Invasive feral hogs have for years threatened native wildlife in the area of Lake Havasu National Wildlife Refuge. But this year, federal officials could allow local hunters to help.

According to Lake Havasu National Wildlife Refuge Manager Richard Meyers, wildlife refuges throughout the U.S. were as of this week in the process of updating hunting and fishing programs. A public notice is expected to be released this spring to inform Arizonans of possible changes to hunting allowed at refuges such as Lake Havasu and Bill Williams.

Meyers says that Arizona Game & Fish Department officials have requested the opening of several new species for hunting, including feral swine.

Feral swine have long posed a jurisdictional challenge for Arizona agencies – By definition, feral swine are either hogs escaped or released from human captivity, or the descendants of hogs that have escaped captivity.

According to Game and Fish officials, feral swine aren’t classified as wildlife. But according to the Arizona Department of Agriculture, feral swine don’t qualify as “domesticated,” either.

Authority over feral swine remains the purview of the USDA, and federal approval could grant hunters the right to hunt hogs for the first time at the Lake Havasu and Bill Williams National Wildlife Refuges.

In a 2020 report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, federal officials said feral swine populations throughout the country posed a threat not only to natural wildlife but endangered species, either through predation or destruction of native wildlife habitat. The USDA reported there are an estimated six million feral swine distributed across 31 states, and their presence is directly linked to the decline of 300 native plants and animals nationwide – including endangered and threatened populations.

According to Arizona Game & Fish Wildlife Supervisor Dee Pfleiger, a decision allowing the hunting of feral swine could go far in protecting Arizona’s natural wildlife from the invasive species.

“The Fish & Wildlife Service has always refused allowing hunting,” Pfleiger said. “They didn’t want to open feral hogs to hunting for public health and safety reasons. Two years ago, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior asked them to work with state agencies to provide opportunities for hunting, and now they’re trying to align state and federal regulations to do so. We want to create an opportunity for hunters to remove them from Arizona’s native landscape.”

As the Fish & Wildlife service prepares to issue a preliminary draft of new federal hunting regulations at the Havasu and Bill Williams wildlife refuges, feral swine may be in the crosshairs – but that may not mean that they’re on the menu.

According to past statements by U.S. Fish & Wildlife officials, feral swine are known carriers of salmonella, brucellosis and other infectious diseases that can easily be passed to humans through consumption.

If the new federal policies are approved for the hunting of feral swine this year, Meyers says that hunting could begin as soon as September.

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(8) comments

Joe Nobody

They are a problem. In the 'old days' they used to turn a blind eye to the hunters taking care of the problem. I actually got hit by one on my M/C one night around the Mesquite Bay area.

simon1dog

Isn't "The Refuge" close by? Stray bullets. I guess they do have those nets.

Havajerry

I've seen a lot of javelinas, which are not feral swine, in the refuge. I have not seen any feral swine. Is it really a problem here?

tomgarven

I believe it is a problem Havajerry although there are others much more qualified to answer that question. I know quite a bit about pigs since I once raised them but not so much about birds. However, it is a well known that pigs love to eat the eggs of nesting birds.

HavasuGuy

I have seen a few feral swine in that area but not javelinas. There is a problem though, like Joe Nobody said above, I also almost hit a couple in my car.

tomgarven

I do support this hunting. Far cheaper to issue a hunting license to local hunters than to hire a helicopter and professional aircraft marksman. Trust me, hog are not that smart but they do have a really bad habits of trying to take a chunk out of someone's leg. Here are the restrictions I would place on the hunting license.

1. Only .223 or 556 caliber or larger rifles should be permitted. 12 and 20 ga shotguns are of course acceptable with the correct ammo. A side arm of 38/9mm or larger can be carried for close in protection from the hogs and used for the final termination. No .22 LR shall be used for the hunt. Its not that a .22 can't take down a hog which I have done lots and lots of times but rather at distances and in the brush they loose impact energy quickly. A good hunter never allows an animal to suffer.

2. A brightly colored vests shall be worn at all times while in the preserve to help with hunter identification. Orange is the prefered color [yellow is o.k.] for hogs since they have difficulty trying to make out that color. Safety first - know what is in your line of fire and what you are going to hit. Bullets can travel well over one mile so never aim or shoot above the horizon. High boots are recommended for protection from snakes.

3. A minimum penalty of not less than $1,000 shall be levied for any other animal shot unless the license is expanded to cover that animal.

4. Duration of issued license should be a minimum of 30 days. While hogs are not extremely smart but they can be very hard to find at times. That gives everyone a good chance of bagging a hog which will help remove this invasive species from the preserve.

I hope this happens. it is good public policy and responsible government since it helps eliminate an invasive species using cost effective methods and human methods of elimination.

NorthLong

Tom, very good ideas. One thing I would add is to limit the number of hunters at any one time or divide the allotted time into seasons..

tomgarven

Sounds good to me as well NorthLong [beam]

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