By Kevin Tate/Outdoors Writer
Populations of wild pigs in every shape, size and color are quickly on the rise across Mississippi, and an aggressive control program undertaken one property at a time appears to be the only recourse.
These opportunistic omnivores are hardy, effectively have no predators other than man, reproduce quickly and wreak havoc on any habitat they occupy. Officials with the Mississippi State University Extension Service say a permanent solution that gets rid of wild hogs anywhere once and for all is unlikely ever to be found, which means continuous population control is the way to go.
According to studies and hunter surveys quoted in the extension service’s content online, in any given group of wild hogs, between eight and 50 percent of the group’s population will be removed through regular hunting methods in the course of a year, with a 20 percent removal rate being the norm in most areas. Considering the frequency and size of new litters of wild pigs, officials calculate a 60 percent removal rate to be the bare minimum to keep any group’s population from expanding – a tall order for regular hunting methods to fill.
trapping is the way to go
Billy Higginbotham with the Texas Agrilife Extension Service says the trapping of wild hogs is a process, not an event. Trappers should first use trail cameras to determine the number of pigs in the group, called a sounder, so that a trap of a size large enough to capture the whole sounder at once can be built.
Pigs are smart enough to learn from man’s failed attempts to eliminate them. A pig that’s seen another pig trapped without being trapped himself is very unlikely ever to be trappable.
Trap placement, Higginbotham says, is an art in itself. While the temptation is to place the trap in the exact area where hog damage is occurring, he says better success can be found by first backtracking the hogs to see where they may be hanging out during the day, typically an area of heavy cover near water, then place the trap upwind of their travel route from cover to feed. This way, the prevailing wind will carry the scent of the bait to the hogs in route and be more likely to attract the entire group.
Once the trap is built, Higginbotham says, leave the gate off or wire it open and continue monitoring with trail cameras as you bait in and around the trap. Only after the camera shows the hogs are routinely entering the trap and eating the bait are you ready to begin setting the trap to trigger. This stage of the process may take a week, or it may take several weeks. Setting the trap too soon and catching the sounder’s most adventurous pig right in front of the rest of the group would be the worst possible scenario.
Higginbotham recommends using a soured bait – shelled corn that’s been allowed to sit in water, for example. A soured bait, he says, may or may not be more attractive to the hogs, but it’s much less likely to be eaten by non- target species. No one needs a hog trap full of raccoons and whitetail deer.
For more information about wild hogs and to see what you can do, go online to wildpiginfo.msstate.edu.