Feds have hogs in sights

The U.S. Department of Agriculture conducted an extermination of feral pigs at Havasu National Wildlife Refuge in February 2017. According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials, the pigs are an invasive species who pose a threat to human health and native wildlife habitats. Sharpshooters will soon return to the refuge for round 2 of the extermination.

Expanded hunting opportunities at the Havasu and Bill Williams national wildlife refuges announced late last week are a welcome development, but buried in that news was the revelation that the US Fish & Wildlife Service is considering allowing “incidental hunting” of feral pigs at the refuges. It’s a common-sense solution to a problem that until now has required elaborate and expensive answers.

The federal government has long been reluctant to allow pig hunting within the refuges, despite vast damage caused by the invasive feral species.

The pigs that make their homes in the refuge are blamed for uprooting native vegetation and damaging fragile habitat used as a breeding ground for migratory birds and nesting areas for endangered species.

Instead, bureaucrats in an office far, far away from Lake Havasu City decided it was more appropriate to hire sharpshooters to kill the pigs from a helicopter.

That’s not an inexpensive undertaking, by the way. The first helicopter shooting exercise in February 2017 cost taxpayers about $25,000 for four days of helicopter hunts by trained marksmen. There have been at least two more hunts since then.

Anyway, there’s been a change in thinking in D.C., and now those same Fish and Wildlife officials wonder if allowing hunters to take out a pig or two on refuge territory might not be such a bad idea.

Basically, hunters would be allowed to take feral pigs if they come across the animals while hunting something else, such as ducks. Like we said, common sense. However, let’s get real and not tiptoe around the issue. The Trump administration ought to allow hunters to kill feral pigs — and any invasive species, for that matter — without having to come up with an excuse. Pigs are a problem, and helicopter sharpshooting sounds better situated to action movies.

— Today’s News-Herald

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