Most people pay no attention to state politics. Your life is full. I get it. Mine is too. But if you care about the quality of life in your local community, state and country, but do not engage at all in the process of making the laws by which you are governed, then you should heed what the Greek philosopher Plato said: “One of the penalties of refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”
If you care about conservation in Indiana, it’s important to have some awareness of what is taking place around the Midwest before it becomes an issue at home. Feral hogs are becoming a serious problem in many states. Their range is expanding, causing serious damage wherever they show up. Indiana does have feral hogs. I’ve personally seen them in Jackson County. The numbers may be small now, but they proliferate rapidly.
Feral hogs are an invasive species that have no place on our landscape. They are an incredible nuisance. They destroy land. They decimate crops. They spread disease. They ruin watersheds. They outcompete native wildlife for food. They destroy ground nests. Feral hogs are a serious problem and they need to be eradicated. Period.
There is a legislative battle taking place in Missouri right now fueled by the state’s game agency, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), and its ban on feral hog hunting on public land. The problem only exists because hog hunters started seeding new populations of feral hogs around the Ozarks. A culture of hog hunting was born, leading to a supply and demand situation with hogs being released to chase.
Now it’s a serious problem, and because of the activity of those who created the problem, government has had to step in with stringent regulations to fight the increasing detriments of hogs and the damage they cause to native wildlife and their habitats, along with private property damage and agricultural losses.
This includes banning feral hog hunting on public lands, both state and federal, which is necessary for two reasons. The first reason being the need for professional trappers to be left to do their job without the interruption of hog hunters running and scattering sounders across the landscape. The second being an attempt to end the culture of hog hunting, so the releasing of feral hogs onto to our public lands, which spill onto private lands, will stop. Without a demand there will be no supply.
The small but vocal minority of people who are demanding the legislature burn down the MDC, because their love for hog hunting has been attacked, want you to believe they are trying to kill every pig on the landscape; that their mission is eradication. I assume you grasp the reality of the situation, and understand these folks are more interested in the fun they have chasing and shooting hogs than they are in preforming a civic duty pertaining to the protection of native wildlife and landscapes.
The USDA, MDC and Pioneer Forest have banned hog hunting. The Ozark National Scenic Riverways is collecting public comment now, and we can only assume it will soon ban hog hunting as well. The Missouri Pork Association supports the ban, as they fear the spread of disease from feral hogs. But state representative Chris Dinkins believes all of those agencies, armed with all of their scientists, are wrong. That the USDA is wrong.
So here is what she has done about it: A state representative who supports feral hog hunting and the “hog doggers” who case them has filed a number of bills to gut the MDC. She won’t be successful, but is wasting taxpayer time and money to promote her agenda, which is counter to every conservation measure you can imagine.
Feral hogs are not a big problem in Indiana, but that can change quickly. DNR needs to stay ahead of this issue and make it very clear that transporting and releasing hogs to hunt is unacceptable and violators will be prosecuted. Indiana doesn’t want to deal with property damage, agriculture losses, destroyed natural resources and diminished native wildlife species numbers because of feral hogs.
See you down the trail …
Brandon Butler writes a weekly outdoors column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at [email protected]. For more Driftwood Outdoors, check out the podcast on www.driftwoodoutdoors.com or anywhere podcasts are streamed.