Talkin' Outdoors

Ron and Tes Jolly operate a farm in east-central Alabama. Tes is a nationally-known wildlife photographer while Ron works for the state of Alabama and is an award winning outdoors writer.

I read an article by Ron in the July-August issue of Turkey Country magazine, published by the National Wild Turkey Federation. This article hit home because the problems the Jolly’s are having on their Alabama farm mimics the problems land owners, hunting lease members and the general public are also having here in Louisiana.

“Ten years ago,” Jolly writes, “feral hog sightings were a novelty on our east-central Alabama farm. A decade later, he points out, he would be in an all-out war to preserve his farm’s water resources, habitat and food plots he had worked so hard to manage and establish, habitat and resources the hogs were destroying.

The frightening commentary about feral hogs around much of the country today is this — if you don’t have hogs on your property now, just wait; they’re coming.

On the hunting lease where I hold membership in Jackson Parish, we will sometimes take, over the course of deer season, as many wild porkers as we do deer.

So, what is the problem with having feral hogs on your property? Aren’t they just another species of wildlife that have a right to compete for living spaces? Not exactly — wild pigs not only can but do horrific damage to the landscape, rooting up food plots and fouling water sources. They’re worse than that. Feral pigs also are disease carriers of up to 37 parasites with at least 30 diseases that can be transmitted to people, pets or wildlife. The case is thusly made that wild pigs need to be eradicated or their numbers reduced, but how do you go about that? You can try to shoot them but when harassed just a bit, they become as wary as deer and start doing their damage under the cover of darkness.

Trapping efforts have only a margin of success as when some are caught, the others become wary of traps. In wide open spaces like south Texas where they present a serious problem, hiring a team of shooters firing from helicopters has been somewhat successful. The use of poisoned bait will take out hogs but more species than pigs are attracted to the bait. Surely there must some method that has promise of working.

The Jager Pro company, based in Georgia, (www.jagerpro.com) might have come up with the best solution yet. The effectiveness of equipment sold by Jager attracted Jolly to give it a try on his farm.

“We consulted with Jager Pro and invested in the M.I.N.E. (Manually Initiated Nuisance Elimination) trapping system,” Jolly wrote. This system is not cheap around $3,000 for the entire package, but the investment may save property owners money in the long run.

Here’s how this ingenious system works. The large corral trap is set with an entrance gate. Bait is placed inside the trap for several days until the “sounder” of hogs — that’s a herd — are accustomed to feeding. A camera is set up at the trap site to monitor and alert the property owner via cell phone or e-mail when the trap is full of pigs. A click of the button at home, the gate is dropped and it’s pork chop city.

Ryan Moore sells these units from his Port Gibson, Mississippi base, having already sold more than 30 units to Louisiana property owners. Check out his website at www.hogsolutionsms.com.

What is Ron Jolly’s opinion after using the system? He and his neighbor who also uses the system have caught over 100 feral pigs in a two month period. “As of this writing,” according to Jolly, “it has been almost two months since the last hog or sign was seen on our farm.”

A workshop, put together by Trailblazer Resource, Conservation and Development agency addressing feral hog problems will be held in Farmerville on Tuesday, August 1 at 6:00 at the Courthouse Annex. Property owners and hunting lease holders are encouraged to attend this free event.