Commonwealth Journal


January 5, 2012

Hog Wild

Feral pigs increasing in number in western Pulaski County

Nancy — Numbers of wild hogs are increasing in Kentucky and the untamed porkers have been aggravating farmers in the western part of Pulaski County for the past four or five years.

“I saw six last Sunday morning,” said Eugene Harness, speaking from Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital where he was recovering from surgery resulting from a fall at his barn on New Year’s Eve.

Harness, a cattle farmer who lives on Carter Ridge Road, has been dealing with wild hogs for a considerable time. He trapped four wild hogs last spring, and, under supervision of a conservation officer, killed and cleaned the animals.

“You’re not allowed to turn them loose,” said Harness. “You have to kill them ... Kentucky Fish and Wildlife doesn’t want them. We don’t want them. They are very destructive.”

“I’ve still got the trap, but it doesn’t work anymore,” said Harness, who was released from the hospital Wednesday afternoon. “Wild hogs get smart pretty quickly,” he remarked. Corn was used as bait to trap the four wild hogs last spring and two of the hogs caught weighed about 150 pounds each.

“Wild hogs mostly stay out at night,” said Harness whose farm is off Ky. 837 near the Casey County line. He said a motion activated Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources camera, attached to a tree about 100 yards from his house, photographed on the night of November 8 a wild hog estimated to weigh about 450 pounds.

Frankie Jasper, also a resident of Carter Ridge Road, knows firsthand how much damage wild hogs can do. “Year before last I got 18 loads of corn off a 28-acre patch. This past year I got some boys with “bay dogs” to run the hogs off and I got 37 loads from the same field,” Jasper noted.

“If dogs chase ‘em out, they will stay away for awhile,” Jasper noted. “If you could see the hogs, you could shoot ’em, but they roam at night. I never saw one after 9 o’clock in the morning.”

“Hogs don’t sweat ... they move at night because it’s cooler,” added Harness.

The season on wild hogs is always open. The pigs can be killed year-round, except shooting is prohibited at night because of dangers of gun-related accidents, among other reasons, including poaching.

Jasper said five wild hogs have been killed on his dad’s farm “ ... and Joby Gossett killed five at Cains Store near the old Caintown Post Office.

“They are all over these ridges ... Green River Knob, Turkey Creek and House Fork Creek,” said Jasper.

Dave Baker, editor of Kentucky Afield, a Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources magazine, and Chad Soard, wildlife biologist for the department, said during an interview last year that wild hogs are a problem in many counties in Kentucky, particularly in the western part of the state.

“It’s open season on them,” said Baker. “We want to get rid of them. They mess up habitat for both deer and turkeys.

Soard, during a conversation Wednesday, suggested wild hogs often are transported illegally into an area for hunting. He said an open or year-round season on the animals gives hunters something to hunt when other seasons are closed.

“Pig hunting as a sport has really taken off,” Soard said. “In Kentucky, we’re not going to promote it as a recreational opportunity.”

“Some wild hogs look differently from a domestic hog, and some look the same,” Soard said. “They come in any color or body shape. Once a pig is out of a pen it becomes a wild hog.”

Originally, there are three different kinds –– a true domestic pig; a feral pig which is a domestic pig gone wild; and the Eurasian boar, imported from Europe and Asia, is a true wild boar, Soard said. Now, the different breeds  have interbred into a hybrid.

Are wild hogs dangerous? “They can be. They deserve respect,” cautioned Soard.

Wild pigs have been in this part of Kentucky for a long time. Soard said an early survey done in 1991 found wild boars in Wayne and McCreary counties.

“It’s a local problem ... if wild hogs are present, it’s a problem for farmers,” Soard said. “The wild hogs also compete with more desirable animals for food. “They are like a vacuum cleaner in the forest, eating mast in the fall that would be food for squirrels, deer and turkeys.


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