Mark Twain National Forest feral hog elimination update – working together is working
Mark Twain National Forest continues to work with partners to eliminate feral hogs in and around the Forest, supporting statewide interagency feral hog elimination efforts through the Missouri Feral Hog Elimination Partnership. The past two years have yielded significant results on the land. A focus on trapping across boundaries, working with USDA APHIS, MDC, neighboring landowners, and many other partners resulted in a big increase in the numbers of hogs successfully trapped. Utilizing multiple methods, including aerial gunning has been effective as well.
“I think what we are doing—working together across agency boundaries and with our neighboring private landowners—is working, but there is still more work to be done” stated Amy Salveter, Public Services Staff Officer and Incident Commander, Feral Hog Interagency Elimination Efforts, for Mark Twain National Forest.
Salveter took on the coordination of feral hog elimination efforts within Mark Twain National Forest as an additional duty because getting rid of these invasive creatures is so important to her and for protecting the public resources. With a background in biology and having worked on public lands across the United States, she has seen the negative impact that feral hogs can have on the landscape and how much they can damage healthy ecosystems.
“We have many employees on our Forest who have stepped up in the fight against feral hogs, and I am so glad their efforts are paying off,” Salveter added.
Across Missouri, the footprint of feral hog populations is shrinking thanks to everyone working together. Currently the partnership has approximately 38 staff from multiple organizations devoted to full time feral hog elimination efforts in Missouri. These staff rely on reports from the public, Partnership scouting teams, and a newly developed systematic baiting method to find hogs on the landscape. Agency staff, with other duties, also help with scouting efforts and report any hog sign back to these full-time staff. Based on data collected since 2016, there has been a 52% reduction in the land area occupied by feral hogs. This equates to approximately 5.8 million acres from which feral swine have been eliminated.
In 2019, rules were established that made it easier for agencies to work together to trap feral hogs. These regulations kept hunting as part of the solution by allowing deer and turkey hunters to shoot feral hogs they encounter while hunting during deer or turkey seasons, while stopping the year-round sport-hunting of the hogs that tended to disrupt trapping operations. Looking at other numbers demonstrates how effective the new regulations focused on eliminating feral hogs has been.
The average number of feral hogs eliminated from the Forest for the two years before the new rules was 923 feral hogs per year; and the average for the two years after the rules has been 2,997 feral hogs per year.
“Twenty-five percent improvement would have demonstrated a significant increase in efficiency; but 225% improvement—that’s amazing!” stated Salveter.
Since October 2015 a total of 12,884 feral hogs have been eliminated from the public lands of the Mark Twain National Forest by the efforts of the partnership’s members. Of this total:
10,751 were removed by trapping (83%),
2,024 were removed during aerial operations (16%)
109 were removed by various shooting events during day and night field operations (1%)
Scouters and trappers working across the National Forest have reported that it is becoming more difficult to find hogs and signs of hogs than in previous years. In some areas they believe they are down to the last few hogs or even lone boars. Even areas with traditionally dense feral hog populations have generated reports of 50% less hog-sign.
“Working with so many partners to face this serious challenge has been rewarding, and I am glad to see that the numbers are showing that it is proving effective as well,” stated Tony Crump, Deputy Forest Supervisor. He added, “I especially want to thank all the neighboring landowners that have joined the partnership in eliminating these invasive animals, along with the dedicated staff from the Forest Service, MDC and the other partnering organizations.”
Mark Twain National Forest is committed to working with all partners to eliminate feral hogs from Missouri. To learn more about these efforts, visit Missouri Department of Conservation’s website at https://mdc.mo.gov/wildlife/invasive-animals/feral-hogs-missouri. Report Feral Hog Sightings and Damage to 573-522-4115 ext. 3296 or online.