The hog wars are ongoing in Oklahoma.
Feral hogs are present in all 77 counties of Oklahoma and the population keeps growing.
“Every year we are getting more complaints and in newer areas,” said Kevin Grant, division director of wildlife services for the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.
“A few years ago we got very few complaints in the northeastern part of the state. Now they are common.”
Wild hogs root up pastures and destroy crops and food plots. In one case in Oklahoma, feral hogs even plowed through cemetery, knocking over the tombstones. The damages they cause are tremendous.
“They will eat anything,” Grant said. “They are smart. They are prolific.”
Texas is so overrun with hogs that they are commonly seen on the roadways. It could be a glimpse of Oklahoma's future.
Hogs reach sexually maturity very quickly and have multiple litters during the year. They are so entrenched in Oklahoma, “You would have to remove 70 percent of the population over a period of years to really see any good come out of it,” Grant said.
There is no statewide eradication program of hogs. When requested, the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry can provide temporary relief for landowners through trapping hogs and other methods.
The agency also will shoot hogs from the air, something that landowners now will be able to do on their own property.
Bills introduced this year in the state Legislature to allow aerial hunting of hogs by helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft both passed and were signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin.
“The problem is now if you shoot one, another takes it place,” Grant said.
Wild hogs are a fun animal for hunters to chase but they do carry diseases. Grant encourage hunters to always wear protective gloves when field dressing the animals and to cook the meat thoroughly.
Hog hunting is growing in popularity in Oklahoma but there is a trade-off. Feral swine can ruin a good deer hunting location.
“The problem is right now we've got just enough of a hog population that we are seeing somewhat of a coexistence,” Grant said. “But hogs and whitetail deer don't get along. You are not going to see hogs and deer grazing together, I assure you.”
Anyone trying to manage a piece of land for deer hunting in Oklahoma will soon, if not already, have to deal with wild hogs.
They knock over deer feeders and devour food plots. And deer are not apt to use a feeder that's been toppled by hogs.
There also is speculation about what impact wild hogs are having on the population of ground nesting birds like turkey and quail.
No one knows for sure but, “it can't be good,” Grant said. “Common sense would tell you they are opportunistic and they will eat and root and destroy anything they could find.”
While there are ways for landowners to get rid of hogs, there are always more waiting in the wings, Grant said. Fighting hogs is a constant battle with no victory in sight.
“It's kind of like an elephant,” Grant said. “You can eat an elephant, but only a bite at a time. What we can do is just whittle away at it.”