Sun City A combined state and federal effort to eradicate feral hogs from south-central and eastern Kansas is steadily making progress, those who hunt the animals say.
The hogs, which cause thousands of dollars in damage to pastures and crops, are hunted by helicopter and on the ground under a program conducted by the Kansas Animal Health Department and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The animals also are trapped during the year.
The program began in 2006 and has about 250 cooperating private landowners, who own about 316,000 acres. Another 224,000 acres of public land are part of the hunt.
Chad Richardson, a USDA wildlife biologist from Milford, estimated that a couple of years ago, Kansas had nearly 2,000 hogs causing $200,000 to $300,000 damage. They have the potential to spread diseases like brucellosis to livestock, and pseudorabies to domestic hogs.
But a state veterinarian, Steve Wilterding, of Tribune, said that in the past four years, no feral hogs have tested positive for any diseases.
Between 1995 and 2000, Richardson helped eliminate 378 hogs from Fort Riley. The animals have not returned to the area. In 2006, Kansas Livestock Commissioner George Teagarden told him the feral hog population was growing in parts of eastern and southern Kansas.
Teagarden also was working to get the state to ban sport hog hunting, which he hoped would remove the incentive for people to release the hogs into the wild.
A state law passed in 1995 made it unlawful to release or possess feral swine, Teagarden said, but the problem continued to grow. Richardson said he believes most of the hogs are brought in and released by those who want to make hog hunting a sport in the state.
They have cost the state thousands of dollars. Teagarden said the first three years of the program have cost about $450,000. And he’s not sure how much funding he’ll get this year because of the state’s tight budget.
State law allows landowners, or a legal tenant, to kill feral hogs. An outside eradication company can be used if the landowner gets a permit through Teagarden’s office.
Richardson said state-approved hunters are not seeing as many hogs as they have in the past. Typically, the agency kills an average of 500 hogs a year. This year, a few were shot around Clinton Lake near Lawrence.