Farmers Face Hurdles to Hunt Wild Hogs

HARMON, La (KTBS)- If wild animals are destroying your property, would you want to wait for weeks to get a permit before shooting them? That's what the state of Louisiana is doing to farmers, who are seeing profits eaten up by wild hogs.

There are maybe a million of them in Louisiana. They're in every parish, even creeping into cities. A YouTube video shows four big sows and lots of piglets checking out fresh green grass in an industrial area of New Orleans last march.

Two wild hogs were recently seen on Blom Boulevard in the Southern Hills area of Shreveport. They possibly hopped out of a nearby bayou.

But where the hogs may be at their worst is on the farm. Game cams on McCartney Brothers' Farms show lots of wild hogs rooting through their fields in Red River Parish. They also have pictures of damage the hogs have done, like the morning after they planted 50 acres of corn last month.

"Planted it that day. Lost it that night," says Brandon McCartney, pointing at the rows of hundreds of dollars worth of corn seed the hogs swallowed.

The McCartneys arm up with rifles, equipped with night vision scopes. They also have infrared goggles and thermal image viewers to hunt the hogs when they come out at night.

"During the month of March, we shot 43 hogs. Forty-three hogs can do a lot of damage," says Blake McCartney.

But state law restricts property owners from killing the hogs at night during deer hunting season unless they have a permit.

The McCartneys finally got one after the state did background checks on everyone allowed to hunt on the property. And the property had to all be mapped out. The McCartneys say it took two months to get their permit.

Said Richard Barham, Secretary of Louisiana Wildlife & Fisheries, to a Senate committee last month, "I promise you I want those permits to go out as quickly as they can."

Barham says the goal now is two weeks. He was testifying against a bill that would allow year 'round, 'round the clock hunting of wild hogs. Barham says it could lead to poaching of deer at night.

Counters state representative Rep. Richard Burford, looking at data from other states, "They don't show that that happens."

The Stonewall Republican says deer poaching has actually gone down in the neighboring states of Texas, Arkansas and Mississippi, which have had year 'round feral hog hunting for years. Burford again proposed the bill to allow that in louisiana. He was disappointed to see it shot down in the Senate Natural Resources committee.

"I just don't believe that a property owner needs to get a permit to protect his own property," Burford says. "I think that's one of the fundamental rights we have."

Burford's bill has failed three years in a row. Meantime the hogs numbers continue to grow, and they eat away at farmers profits."

Adds Brandon McCartney, "It's frustrating that you can't go out and protect it without having to jump through the hoops that government puts up."

"If something is damaging your property you should have the right to go and limit that damage," Blake McCartney says.

The McCartney brothers both testified on behalf of Burton's bill before the Senate committee.

They say all they can do now is make sure their permit stays up to date. Because they say the hogs are always out there making more hogs.

Burford says he'll bring the bill back next year. But Wildlife & Fisheries Sec. Barham says a sterilization program would be a better solution to controlling the wild hog population.


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