September 9, 2013 8:23:07 AM
JACKSON -- Mississippi lawmakers are to hear from wildlife and hunting experts Monday on possible programs to combat a growing wild hog population.
Mississippi wildlife officials say wild hogs are now in more than half the counties of the state, tearing up crops and destroying other kinds of vegetation. They said wild hogs populations are growing because of they reproduce often and can survive in virtually any habitat. The animals also lack any natural predators.
"It concerns me that many Mississippians are not aware of the serious nuisance and threat Mississippi's feral hogs present to our economy. If this was a virus, it would be considered an epidemic," Sen. Giles Ward, R-Louisville, the Senate wildlife committee chairman, said in a statement.
"These animals are reproducing far faster than they are being eliminated. They can destroy a huge row crop overnight. It's great that many sportsmen are hunting the animals, but these are not sport animals. They are a nuisance and we have got to develop an effective plan for reducing the ever growing population of wild hogs."
Members of the House and Senate wildlife committees will meet at the state Capitol in Jackson.
Giles said lawmakers will hear from experts on what state leaders should do to curb the growing threat that the animals pose to farmers and landowners.
A new state law took effect July 1 that added wild hogs to the state beaver-control program. The law created a Beaver and Wild Hog Control Advisory Board to come up with a program to control or eradicate beavers and wild hogs. The program is administered by the Mississippi Department of Agriculture.
Earlier this summer, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks removed all of the rules against shooting wild hogs. Officials said a landowner and leaseholder can kill hogs or other nuisance animals any day of the year, day or night, without any type of caliber or weapon restrictions.