|My wife Teresa, doing her part to control|
feral hog numbers while deer hunting.
Near Cascoe, AR Nov 2014
Feral Hog populations have exploded in Arkansas. Unbelievably prolific, sows can have 2 or 3 litters each year with 8-14 piglets in each litter. Experts estimate that you would have to kill 70%-85% of feral hogs each year just to keep the population in check.
So, if you're like me, you might be scratching your head over the AGFC's new restrictions on killing hogs on most WMA's this year. My first thought was like: Really?....You've got to be kidding me. Am I missing something?
Some back ground on the rules.. Active hog hunting has long been banned from WMA's. It has always been "incidental" taking only. This was to discourage hog hunting activists from releasing hogs into the wild. Yes it has happened. And by the way its now a felony in Arkansas to do so.
Also the new rules do not apply to private lands. You can still take hogs by any method year round on your own property.
Let me address some statements the AGFC has put forth as reasons for the new rule.
1. "Hog trapping is more effective than hunting".
Sure it is. But what does that have to do with a bowhunter up in a tree shooting a hog that just happens to walk under him? How can it be argued that eliminating this "incidental" taking of hogs as beneficial to the state's efforts to control the hog population?
2. "For trapping to be effective the area must be undisturbed."
How has the AGFC's rule against the "incidental" taking of hogs on WMA's changed anything regarding disturbance? The bowhunter will still be in the same tree. The dog hunters will still be running their nine or ten barking and baying dogs. In the grand scheme of things I hardly think bowhunters are the source of any disturbance or hindrance in the trapping of wild hogs.
Active Hog Hunting is the Real Problem
|Outfitted for hog hunting|
One might argue that the most objective and effective solution would be for the AGFC to simply ban dog hunting on the WMA's. I'm certainly not advocating that. It would be unfair to punish legitimate law abiding dog hunters. But for discussion sake you would have to agree that it would eliminate the real "disturbance" issue.
On one hand the AGFC is pushing for rules that will reduce illegal "active hog hunting" yet on the other they don't want to alienate any particular group of hunters. Their solution as we now know it today, is to eliminate incidental taking of hogs on WMA's for not just dog hunters but, bowhunters and small game hunters as well. In this way no one group is singled out or picked on, but the terrible bureaucratic trade off is that we have this seemingly nonsensical rule.
One other thing. You may ask; What about federal refuges like our White River NWR following the rule? The AGFC requested that ALL refuges go along with the new rules. Being federal, our refuges are not obligated to follow state wildlife management actions but felt a need to be a "team player", and not conflict with state rules. After expressing their reservations refuge managers reluctantly agreed.