Conservation District Invests in Hog Corral
The Clay County Conservation District (CCCD) is investing in a corral trap, called a boar buster, intended for use in catching feral hogs.
Clay County conservationist Daniel Gossett said purchasing the trap is a proactive act by the district, because "we see the problem of feral hogs as a future problem."
Two hogs have been seen in the Knob area and conservationists in Greene County have been trapping as many as 30 at a time. The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture reports wildlife biologists have seen sightings of feral hogs in every county in Arkansas, with the majority being over the past two years.
"Most of the feral hog problem begins with people raising hogs and then releasing them, because then they become feral and breed rapidly," Gossett said.
Feral hogs can take out a crop overnight. Even though they are omnivores they prefer vegetation over anything else, which can be a real problem for area farmers if a large number of feral hogs cross a field. Nationwide, feral hogs cause approximately $1.5 billion in damage to U.S. crops and land each year.
However, feral hogs not only pose a threat to crops, but they carry diseases that can be transmitted to cattle, pets and even humans by competing for natural resources such as food and water. In many cases the contamination to the water supply is often how they spread disease to humans.
Clay County farmer Chris McNabb saw a feral hog outside of Knobel, crossing a field near Clay County Road 208. "At first I thought it was a coyote, because it was similar in size, but it hunkered down in some tall grass near the road so I got a good look at it," McNabb said.
Gossett said "where there's one there will be more." Hogs can have up to 15 piglets in a litter, but the average litter is about six. Sows or female pigs are capable of producing two litters a year. Hogs are not native to the United States. Eurasian and Russian hogs were introduced in the early 1600's by European explorers. Feral hogs have been a stress on agriculture in Southern Arkansas for more than a century, but the problem is becoming more widespread, and the movement of the hogs throughout the country has become substantial.
Gossett said the reason for the new corral trap is the old gate-style trap tended to make the hogs trap shy, and they learn not to get into the trap once they have seen how it works. Also, with a gate-style trap they actually have to enter the trap through a somewhat small opening. The gate style is only 49 percent successful.
The new corral trap is an 18-foot circle set up in panels above the ground where the hogs can enter freely from all sides, which makes it more likely to catch more hogs at once. Game cameras are set up around the corral and the cameras send pictures to a cell phone, which makes it possible for the owner to see exactly what's in the trap before remotely detonating it.
The CCCD is waiting for a trap to be delivered and will offer to set it up as a free service to farmers who realize there are hogs on their property. The CCCD will also take care of remotely activating the trap. The only cost to the farmer will be the bait, which is usually corn, Gossett said.
Signs of a hog problem are rooted up areas, trees rubbed sometimes completely out of the ground and wallows, which can best be found near water supplies.
For more information on feral hogs, persons may visit ClayCountyCD.com or google the U of A Feral Hog Control in Arkansas pamphlet MP534.