Recent decisions by state and federal departments have placed a ban on the hunting of feral hogs on public land, essentially creating a “safe space” for these hogs to live, breed, and continue to wreak havoc on private landowners. Closing the Mark Twain National Forrest to hunting is putting visitors at risk and criminalizing them for acts of self-defense. On top of that, it has led to an increase in damage on private land surrounding this new safe space for hogs.
I have listened and researched the trapping option that the Missouri Conservation Department supports. I think there is much evidence supporting the positives of trapping. However, trapping alone cannot stop the spread of feral hogs. What we have found from talking to those on the ground, those who are dealing with the damage on their own land up close and personal, is that these hogs are very intelligent. Once a herd is trapped and killed, the hogs that got away do not return to that trap. Leaving the trap in that location after a kill is a waste of time and resources. During a tour that I, and other legislators, took over the summer, we saw several traps that had been completely abandoned by the Department of Conservation. Again, trapping alone is a waste of resources.
It is going to take an “all of the above” approach to stop the spread of these hogs throughout our state. They are a continuing threat to farmers, hunters, and private landowners. We cannot simply say trapping is our only move. Perhaps we could work together and allow hunting dogs in once a trap has been complete? I find it hard to believe that we cannot work together to eradicate these hogs.
Currently, there is legislation moving in Jefferson City that opposes the ban on public land in the Mark Twain National Forrest. I am proud to support this effort and many other pieces of legislation aimed at combating the hog issue in Missouri. Private landowners should not face unreasonable and unconstitutional bans on the methods to which they can eliminate feral hogs from their property. The government bans on the use of thermal vision and night vision in hunting, and the fines associated with using these methods, is a classic case of government overreach.
We must change this type of thinking. I have supported our Department of Conservation over the years on countless issues. I think they’ve done some great work for our state. But I’m a person who calls balls and strikes, and on the feral hog issue, I feel they have gotten it completely wrong. We need the department to work with us, our farmers, and our landowners. It’s time to start paying attention to the folks on the ground dealing with these issues every single day. Our private property rights are at stake.
State Rep. Holly Rehder is a Republican who represents HD 148.