Monday, January 23, 2017

Killing of more than 11,000 feral swine in Oklahoma in 2016 just 'a drop in the bucket'

A trap for feral swine in Oklahoma County, Oklahoma
(Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry photo)
Despite killing 11,206 feral swine in 2016—a 44 percent increase over 2015—Oklahoma officials said the problem still persists in the state's 77 counties, Kelly Bostian reports for Tulsa World. Scott Alls, assistant state director of the Wildlife Services Division of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, "acknowledged that, compared to the statewide population, the 11,000 killed by state agents are probably 'a drop in the bucket.'”

Feral swine are credited with damaging crops, personal property, yards, golf courses and wildlife habitat for native species, Bostian writes. There are no official population estimates for feral swine, which "are able to reproduce before they are 1 year old and might have two litters a year with up to 10 or 12 piglets in each litter." State and federal money funds about $500,000 per year to deal with nuisance animals, such as feral pigs, coyotes and beavers.

Alls said the increase in kills is "a good-news, bad-news scenario," because it "shows that more people are aware of the public services available to fight expanding feral swine problems, but it also probably means the pigs continue to be a growing problem as well," Bostian writes. Alls, who estimated that the number of feral swine killed in 2017 is likely to increase, told Bostian, “Word has gotten out that we have these services, one farmer talks to another. But it’s probably a situation where we have both more awareness and more pigs causing problems.”

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