Archive for Saturday, March 11, 2006

Ag Department hog eradication aims to halt spread of disease

March 11, 2006

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— The U.S. Department of Agriculture killed more than 60 feral hogs this week in southwest Kansas, as it attempts to curtail the spread of diseases from the wild hogs to domestic pigs.

Livestock commissioner George Teagarden said nearly a dozen people helped in Tuesday's eradication effort along the Cimarron River. Although the eradication dented the population, Teagarden said Kansas could have hundreds or thousands still roaming the state.

"Feral hogs are an increasing concern," he said. "We're starting to take more action because we are losing ground."

Teagarden said a law passed in 1995 making it illegal to possess or release feral swine had done little to slow their population growth. Besides spreading disease to domestic pigs, wild hogs destroy wildlife habitat and feed on crops.

According to the Agriculture Department's Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, there are more than 4 million wild hogs nationwide.

"It's a pretty big problem," said Ted Alexander, who owns a ranch in Barber County. "They are hard on fences, and when they get into a creek bottom riparian area, it looks like Vietnam after they left."

Hunting hogs is legal in Kansas, and because they are considered livestock, a license isn't required. But Teagarden said a more efficient way to slow their population growth is to strengthen laws against importation and possession.

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