Feral hogs are not native to North America, but many feral hogs live in Arkansas because of illegal releases and high reproductive success. Hogs compete directly with many native game animals for food and destroy habitat for many other wildlife species.
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission tries to eradicate feral hogs from its wildlife management areas and encourages private landowners to kill all free-ranging feral hogs on their property.
There are a number of problems caused by feral hogs, including:
* Habitat destruction -- Feral hogs root for food and wallow, which destroys vegetation, ruins water holes used by other wildlife and contributes to erosion.
* Damage to endangered or sensitive plant/animal communities -- Feral hogs can cause major, sometimes irreparable, damage to small, fragile habitats, such as acid seeps in the Ouachitas and cedar glades in the Ozarks.
* Disease -- Feral hogs can carry brucellosis and pseudorabies, both of which can spread to livestock. Some diseases carried by feral hogs can be transmitted to humans. Gloves should always be worn when handling feral hogs.
* Direct competition with native wildlife -- deer, squirrels, ducks, turkeys, bears and many other species depend on acorns. Hogs also love acorns and are very efficient at finding them (often tearing up wildlife habitat in the process).
* Crop loss -- Hogs often cause heavy damage to row crops, gardens, flower beds, pine plantations, orchards, tree farms and pastures.
* Trespass -- It is illegal to release hogs or pigs on any public land. Feral hogs may be released only onto private land that is adequately fenced to prevent them from escaping. The Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission has additional regulations regarding disease testing, slaughter and identification of all hogs, including feral hogs.
On private land, feral hogs may be killed or trapped year-round by a landowner or anyone with the landowner's permission (except anyone who has had his or her hunting license revoked).
All general regulations for hunting safety should be observed.
The AGFC encourages hunters to shoot all feral hogs they see on WMAs. Hunters may kill feral hogs on WMAs during any open hunting season as long as they are using a weapon legal for that season.
Only permit holders may hunt feral hogs during special permit hunts. Feral hogs killed on WMAs can be taken for processing or left where they were shot.
Hunters may not use dogs, bait or traps to hunt feral hogs on WMAs and may not hunt at night.
The following WMAs have particularly high hog numbers.
They may suffer extreme loss of habitat for deer, turkey and other wildlife if feral hogs are not eradicated: Cut Off Creek WMA; Petit Jean WMA; Gene Rush WMA; Sulphur River WMA; Gulf Mountain WMA; Dr. Lester Sitzes III Bois d'Arc WMA; Harold E. Alexander Spring River WMA; Shirey Bay Rainey Brake WMA.