Feral Hog Trapping Effort a Success
District technicians Daniel Gossett and Sean Martin sat Tuesday in the warmth and comfort of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office in Piggott and watched video from the night before, of activity around the Boarbuster feral hog trap currently set up near Marmaduke.
The trap, which was purchased last year by the Clay County Conservation District (CCCD), was used last week to assist the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) in trapping a pesky pack of wild hogs which had previously avoided capture. The trap was placed at a rural location near the Clay-Greene County line last Wednesday, and by the weekend the majority of the pack had been trapped and eradicated.
"We had identified 24 hogs and were able to catch 21 of them the first time, including 17 piglets, three sows and a boar," Gossett explained. "There are still three others, two boars and a sow, we're still after from this bunch."
Using a real-time video feed, the local NRCS staff members can monitor the activity at the trap at any given time, allowing them to trip the mechanism by way of their smart phone or computer. "We get a text message anytime there is activity -- the camera is motion-activated," Gossett added. "Then, we can get on the live feed and see what, if anything, is in the trap."
The video also is archived each time the camera is tripped, with each clip available for review at a later time. Understandably, due to the rural location, a number of other wild animals also frequent the area of the trap, mainly due to the presence of the 100 pounds of corn used for bait.
"We've seen a lot of deer and some raccoons, and such, but the hogs we're still trying to trap haven't gotten inside the trap again, though we have seen them in the background," he added.
The AGFC has been working to try to stem the expansion of the feral hog population in the state for many years, as the nuisance animals continue a northward migration. Martin indicated the pack near Marmaduke had been the subject of other efforts, using the Game and Fish Commission's traps, which proved unsuccessful.
"They've been trying to trap this bunch for awhile with their regular panel-type traps," he added. The panel traps are a simple enclosure, with a door which slides closed once the hogs are inside. In earlier efforts the local hogs proved too wary to be captured in this manner.
"We took delivery of the trap late last year, but didn't have a good place to set it up," Gossett explained of the Boarbuster unit. "They just came out last June, and we were on a waiting list to get one."
The unit is a corral type trap, as the panel-type has been known to make hogs trap-shy. It is an 18-foot circle, with the enclosure held above the ground, allowing the hogs to enter from all sides. When tripped, the enclosure falls quickly, allowing the capture of more hogs at one time.
The video of the capture has also proved very popular on social media, as the CCCD shared it on their Facebook page. "As of Tuesday morning it had been viewed, or shared, over 56,000 times," Martin added.
The problem of feral hogs has spread from the southern portion of the state, and in the past two years officials have reported sightings in all 75 counties in Arkansas. The hogs are not native to North America, as most were introduced in the early 1600s by European explorers.
In southern Arkansas the problem has been prevalent for over 100 years, but the issue is now becoming more widespread as the hogs look for additional feeding ground. According to the conservationists, signs of a hog problem include wallows, evidence of rooting and damaged trees and other vegetation from rubbing.
Once they've become established, they breed at an amazing rate. "Where you see one hog, there will be more," Gossett observed. "Sows can have up to 15 piglets in a litter, but the average is about six, and they can produce on average about two litters a year."
Going forward the local NRCS office will make the trap available to landowners who have a feral hog problem. Those wanting additional information may call 870-598-2287, or visit them the Farm Service Agency Service Center, 168 East Main Street, in Piggott. Gossett may also be reached by email at Daniel.Gossett@ar.nacdnet.net