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June 17, 2012

Feral hog problems continue to grow

NORMAN — Cleveland County has a growing threat that is spreading quickly. This epidemic has not spread county-wide, but with time, will occupy much of our county. In a few years, it is likely the residential areas of Norman and Moore will be the only portions of our county not affected. This pest requires immediate attention from landowners, farmers, ranchers, hunters and county, state and federal agencies.

Feral hogs, defined as any hogs, including Russian and European wild boar, which are running at large, free-roaming or wild, are out of control across many states. These non-native invaders are costing farmers, ranchers, landowners and wildlife managers millions. Feral Hogs can be extremely dangerous and pose serious ecological, economic, aesthetic, medical and veterinary threats to our state and nation.

Feral hogs are durable, hugely successful from a reproductive standpoint, adaptable and very intelligent. While they do not see or hear as well as most wild animals, they make their living off their noses. Almost every aspect of their existence depends on their keen sense of smell. Feral hogs are omnivorous meaning they can and will eat just about anything. This list includes, but is certainly not limited to crops, pasture and rangeland plants, small mammals including deer fawns, young sheep or goats, reptiles, amphibians, bird eggs and just about anything else that stands still long enough.

Feral hogs spread disease and parasites and destroy hundreds of thousands of acres of sensitive native plant and animal communities. Feral hogs cause tremendous water quality issues, and induce severe erosion in crop, pasture and forested areas. I could write a 10-page article on the devastating effects feral hogs pose to our county and state, but I think you get the point. This is a bad situation we face and it will continue to be a monumental fight from now on without implementing drastic control measures.

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