In 2022, the Missouri Feral Hog Elimination Partnership (MFHEP) eliminated 6,289 invasive feral hogs from the landscape. That tally is down from 9,857 feral hogs removed in 2021 and 12,635 hogs removed in 2020 — a year that marked the end of a streak of year-over-year increases. Officials say that two years of back-to-back decreases in removal numbers is actually a good thing.
“If anything, the [removal] efforts have increased but there are simply fewer hogs left on the landscape. It’s an indicator the program is succeeding.” Dan Zarlenga, a spokesman for the Missouri Department of Conservation, told Grand View Outdoors. “We’ve just been hitting them really hard. It seems to be paying off.”
Through the Missouri Feral Hog Elimination Partnership, the Show-Me State partners with private landowners to trap hogs and employs 48 full-time hog trappers. Feral pigs are primarily found in the state’s southern Ozark region. According to Pork, the Partnership also utilized eight drones for night operations using infrared imaging.
Unlike some states, Missouri has strongly discouraged hog hunting as a population control method since 2016. The practice is banned on state-managed lands. Some experts say that recreational hog hunters often unintentionally disperse sounders by shooting only one or two hogs at a time and prompt some hogs to turn nocturnal, making them even harder to locate and remove. They also worry that hog hunting creates an incentive to keep the invasive critters on the landscape.
Instead, the Missouri Feral Hog Elimination Partnership primarily uses large ground traps to catch and remove entire sounders. One farmer told USA Today that the Partnership has removed 726 feral hogs from his 600-acre farm alone. Feral hogs carry diseases, destroy crops and natural habitats, and compete with native species such as deer and turkeys for food.