Feral hogs running wild throughout state
STILLWATER — While they are not native to the United States, feral hogs have made Oklahoma their home, and farmers and ranchers have the damage on their property to prove it.
When feral hogs are on your property there are several indicators that give away their stealthy lifestyle, said Dwayne Elmore, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension wildlife specialist.
“They have tracks that are similar to deer, but more rounded,” he said.
Rooting is the most evident footprint left by hogs, however. In softer soils, the rooted areas can be up to 3 feet deep, leaving large wallows. They root around a lot looking for food, usually in broad areas leaving massive soil disturbances, loss of plant material and erosion problems. The hogs then rub on trees, removing bark and leaving mud plastered to treetrunks a few feet off the ground.
Counties in the southeast portion of the state have bigger populations, but feral hogs have been leaving destruction in their paths throughout Oklahoma.
“They are very difficult to control,” said Elmore. “Exclusion is almost never practical, leaving lethal control as the best option.”
Hog hunters enjoy the sport, while farmers cringe at the thought of their crops being ravaged by the intruders.
Picking off a hog or two at a time through hunting may make landowners feel like they are taking care of the problem, however, many times the hogs just stop moving during the day and do their damage at night. Elmore said trapping entire groups at a time is much more effective.
“To catch an entire group, consisting anywhere from five to 20 animals, we want to construct a large, round trap,” Elmore said. “If there are corners, large pigs will pile up and some will escape.”
An effective way of constructing a trap like this is with the use of cattle panels, placed in a circular fashion with T-posts tightlysecuring them to the ground.
“They will root under the panels, so make sure they are strongly secured,” he said. “You want to prebait the trap so the hogs get used to coming in before setting it.”
The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation has information available online at noble.org, which includes various traps and methods of trap construction.