By Therese Apel/Brokhaven Daily Leader
BOGUE CHITTO — Steve Wallace monitors the population of the feral hogs on his property in Bogue Chitto, saying they don’t bother him too much as long as they don’t get into his clover patches.
“I’m not a farmer, I’m just growing timber mostly, so it doesn’t hurt me a lot unless they get in the clover patches and food plots for the deer,” he said.
Wallace said he has two primary sows on his land that have two litters each per year. He said they watch the pigs grow, and then when the time comes, they hunt them.
“I’ve probably got about 25 right now, and that’s not a lot, but I don’t have a real big place either,” he said. “It’s probably too many for that small a place. A little later when winter comes we’ll shoot them from the deer stand and eat them.”
Not everyone is at peace with their wild hogs like Wallace.
Howard Stogner, a forester with the Mississippi Forestry Commission, said not only has he heard a lot of complaints about the hogs and the vast damage they can do with their rooting, he has also had personal experience with them.
“On my Walthall County property, I have had to replant three times because they rooted up the pine trees,” he said. “Also, they’ll rub up against the trees to get the lice of them, and it tears the bark off, and that’ll reduce the value of your trees.”
And what makes the destruction worse, Stogner said, is that the feral pigs will tear up the land to the point that maintenance equipment can get broken when it’s used to work the land.
“Not only can it affect big equipment, it does a lot of damage to the environment,” Stogner said. “They can go out and make what’s called a pig wallow in the wetlands and do damage to the wetlands by doing that. Ecologically, they can damage the habitat.”
And they’re a nightmare for farmers.
“Wild pigs are ruining crops all over the state,” Bronson Strickland, an assistant professor at the Mississippi State University Department of Wildlife.
“They can get on a farm and root up entire crop rows in just one night. They can dig up almost every single seed in a field. They aren’t picky; they get into soybeans, corn and most recently, peanut farms.”
Stogner said the primary problems in Lincoln County that he’s heard about are located in the southern half of the county, where there has been quite a bit of damage reported.
“Down in Bogue Chitto they’ve had a lot of problems with wild hogs rooting up their trees and what they’ve planted,” he said. “But there are also problems with them going in and just destroying roads, food plots, that sort of thing.”
And while many people who have grown up on farms are used to the idea of pigs and are not intimidated by them, Stogner said these pigs are not to be taken lightly. They are also very dangerous.
“I would not go near one without a big caliber gun. Sometimes they’ll run away, but a sow with piglets can be just like a mama bear,” Stogner said. “They’ll attack, and if you just wound one, you’ve got a definite problem on your hands. Then if you let them go, that problem is someone else’s.”
A 2007 law makes hunting wild hogs year-round legal, with the only restrictions coming during established game seasons when they must be hunted with the weapon that is in season. If a landowner applies for a nuisance animals permit, landowners, leaseholders and their designated agents can hunt the pigs day or night, without restrictions.
Strangely enough, today’s feral hogs are kind of like the Kudzu that also grows freely and reproduces in record rates all over the state, said Strickland. They started off as something man thought he had under control.
“Pigs are thought to have first been introduced to the United States by Hernando DeSoto during his North American explorations,” he said. “Today, most wild pigs seen in Mississippi are feral, from previously domesticated swine. Studies have linked some wild pigs back to feral-domestic and feral-Russian hybrids.”