Summary

Feral hogs are a growing threat to Missouri, destroying crops, pastures and forests. Missouri must continue to develop and accelerate a unified plan to eradicate this pest from our state.

Black vultures have also begun to make their way into southern parts of Missouri. These predators terrorize young calves and other small animals, and international treaties prevent them from being killed.

Background

Feral hogs have been present in Missouri for many years, and their population and range has steadily grown. As the population grew, so did its impact on the state. Agriculturalists across the southern half of the state have regularly seen row crops and pastures destroyed by this invasive pest. MOFB members believe the only acceptable goal regarding feral hogs is complete eradication.

Black vultures are relatively new to Missouri, but their appearance on the scene has not been welcomed by farmers and ranchers. These birds prey on newborn calves and other animals, tearing them apart piece by piece for a meal. International treaties protect these birds from being killed without a permit, even if attacking livestock, because they migrate over international borders.

Status

MOFB’s involvement in this issue dates back more than a decade.  In 2007, MOFB was a member of Governor Matt Blunt’s Feral Hog Task Force. To this day, MOFB members remain concerned with the property damage and disease threats caused by feral hogs and illegal transportation and release of the animals across the state.  Our organization continues to be focused on promoting efforts to eliminate feral hogs.

Prior to 2019, MOFB’s policy stated, “We believe feral hogs are an unacceptable risk to both humans and livestock and support federal and state eradication efforts. We support increasing the penalty in Missouri from a misdemeanor to a felony for the intentional release of any hogs on public land or private land without acceptable confinement. We also believe it should be a felony to hold alive or transport feral hogs without a special permit from the Missouri Department of Agriculture.”

In 2019, MOFB’s State Board of Directors approved the formation of a group to study issues related to feral hogs and explore where additional policy may be needed. MOFB staff reached out to county Farm Bureau presidents from counties impacted by feral hogs for nominations to the study group.  The following MOFB members were appointed to the Feral Hog Study Group.

2019 MOFB Feral Hog Study Group Members:

Benton, Rodney Johnson
Carter, Alan Gibbs
Christian, Scott Stine
Crawford, Jackie Ware
Iron, Jason Nickelson
Madison, James Priday/Danny Kay
Oregon, Patrick Ledgerwood
Phelps, Morgan Adams
Pulaski, Larry Helms
Reynolds, Michael Brawley
Shannon, Armand Sprugin
Stoddard, Patrick Hobbs
Washington,  Jim Reed
Wayne, Rick Thompson

The Feral Hog Study Group met on three occasions to gather information and consider additional policies for recommendation to MOFB’s State Resolutions Committee.  Voting delegates at the Missouri Farm Bureau Annual Meeting, held December 8-10, approved the organization’s policies for 2020.

MOFB does not have specific policy supporting or opposing the closure of public lands to feral hog hunting. MOFB did not advocate for or against the U.S. Forest Service’s (USFS) proposal to close the Mark Twain National Forest to feral hog hunting.  MOFB did inform members and the public about the two informational meetings hosted by USFS and how citizens could share their views during the public comment period.

MOFB will continue to participate in feral hog elimination efforts based on our member-adopted policies.

Regarding black vultures, MOFB has been in discussions with state agencies and with Farm Bureaus from other states with black vulture problems. We are exploring several alternatives regarding how to combat this pest and hope to be able to move forward with countermeasures soon.

MOFB Policy

Wildlife Damage 

We believe feral hogs are an unacceptable risk to humans, livestock, crops, and property. We believe eradication of all feral hogs is the ultimate goal. We support federal and state eradication efforts.

We oppose any form of profit to be derived from feral hogs or hunting of feral hogs.

If public lands are closed to feral hog hunting, we believe relevant federal and state agencies must respond with increased eradication efforts. Furthermore, any decision to close public land owned or managed by federal or state agencies must be re-examined no later than 3 years from the date of enactment.

We believe agencies involved in eradication efforts should prioritize the removal of feral hogs. Current expenditures and staff time focused on feral hogs is not adequate. If additional funds are necessary they should be reallocated from other areas within the departments. No new taxes or fees should be required.

We support stakeholder cooperation in eradication efforts. We believe landowners and relevant agencies should work together. Eradication efforts should be done by any means necessary to eliminate feral hogs.

We support allowing landowners and landowners’ agents to use any legal means necessary to eliminate feral hogs. This includes the use of artificial lights, night vision and thermal imaging. All elimination efforts should be done with the ultimate goal of eradication.

We support allowing incidental take of feral hogs on public lands closed to feral hog hunting in accordance with MDC and US Forest Service regulations.

We support a clear definition of a feral hog in state statute and regulations. The definition should be clear enough to allow law enforcement officials to punish individuals for transporting and holding feral hogs while protecting agricultural operations.

We believe the Feral Hog Elimination Partnership should have a disposal plan in case of any disease outbreak.

We support increasing the penalty in Missouri from a misdemeanor to a felony for the intentional release of any hogs on public land or private land without acceptable confinement. We also believe it should be a felony to hold alive or transport feral hogs without permission from the Missouri Department of Agriculture.

We support the development of educational programs and materials for law enforcement officials. We support allowing any law enforcement official to write a citation for illegal transport or holding of feral hogs. Law enforcement will confiscate and kill such feral hogs. We encourage the active involvement of county prosecutors, and believe anyone caught transporting or holding feral hogs should be punished to the fullest extent of the law including the loss of hunting privileges.

Wildlife Pests 

Blackbirds, starlings, Canada geese, black vultures and similar pests are causing serious damage to crops, livestock and property in many areas. They are a hazard to aviation and a carrier of diseases to humans as well as to livestock and crops.

We oppose requiring permits to eliminate pests covered by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, especially black vultures.

Wildlife is increasing over a wide geographic area. Intensive research efforts should be carried out at the state and federal levels accompanied by prompt implementation by the Conservation Commission and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service of all practical recommendations and methods necessary to control these pests.