Shoot 'em on sight

Shoot 'em on sight

Feral Hogs in Missouri

Why are feral hogs a problem?


These domestic hogs gone wild degrade wildlife habitat and private property, compete with native wildlife for food, and can pose a threat to humans, pets and domestic livestock through the spread of disease.

They spread devastating diseases to people, livestock and pets


In other states, feral hogs are known to carry diseases such as swine brucellosis, pseudo-rabies, trichinosis and leptospirosis. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control reported that several hunters contracted Brucella suis infection as a result of field-dressing kills made in the southeastern part of the nation.

They destroy habitat and young wildlife


Just like their domestic cousins, feral hogs spend a lot of time rooting and wallowing. This behavior contributes to soil erosion, reduces water quality and damages agricultural crops and hay fields. It also destroys sensitive natural areas such as glades, fens and springs.

Hogs have a keen sense of smell and are opportunistic feeders. They forage heavily on acorns, competing with native species such as deer and turkeys for this important fall food. They commonly eat the eggs of ground nesting-birds and have been reported to kill and eat fawns.

How did the problem arise?


Several counties south of I-44 have had feral hogs roaming the countryside since the days of open range. These populations were isolated and kept in check by local hunting efforts.

The situation took a wrong turn in the 1990s when hog hunting for recreation began to gain popularity. Groups started raising and promoting European wild boar as a form of alternative agriculture and for hunting on licensed shooting areas. It wasn’t long before many of these hogs escaped or were intentionally released on public land.

Because feral hogs are highly adaptable and prolific breeders, their numbers started growing at an alarming rate. By 2000, the Conservation Department was receiving damage complaints from private landowners.

Today feral hog populations are established in over 20 south Missouri counties and sightings of feral hogs occur across the state.

How can we fix the problem?


Controlling feral hogs is difficult. Populations are small, isolated and usually found in the remote, rugged terrain of the Ozarks, making locating and harvesting the hogs tricky. Adding to the problem of eradication is a growing occurrence of illegal-hog releases across the state.

There is hope, however. Concentrated shooting and trapping efforts by state and federal employees, private landowners and recreational hunters have brought some success. And while most outdoor enthusiasts do not target feral hogs specifically, opportunities exist for deer, turkey and other hunters to harvest hogs while pursuing other game.

Overall, private landowners are taking care of their own property. Help is needed to control hogs on public lands.

In Missouri, feral hogs may be taken in any number throughout the year. During most of the year, no permit is required and any method (including baiting and the use of dogs) is allowed. However, special restrictions apply during the fall firearms deer and turkey seasons. Refer to the current Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Regulations for specific information.

The Conservation Department asks that all hunters who encounter a feral hog shoot it on sight. Doing so will reduce the feral hog population and keep the spread of this destructive pest in check.