Ronda Talley and her neighbors take great pride in their scenic southeast Oklahoma properties located south of Stuart.
Yet these days, Talley and her neighbors are frustrated by an invasive species tearing up their properties.
“My backyard has been rooted up for the third time by wild hogs,” Talley said.
“Personally I don’t feel endangered by them but I do have a small dog and a dog that is blind,” Talley said. “I feel if they did encounter a wild hog they would (be) hurt.”
Feral swine are a growing concern across Oklahoma because of their increasing numbers and the damage they inflict to the landscape. Feral swine have been detected in 70 of the state’s 77 counties, but they are most prevalent across the southern parts of Oklahoma, according to the most recent press release from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation website.
ODWC Information Specialist Don T. Brown said feral hogs are known to damage large areas by ripping up the landscape as they root for food.
“The hogs will devastate large areas looking for food,” Brown said. “They dig up large amounts of dirt.”
Brown said the hogs are not considered harmful or threatening to people unless provoked.
“If you aggravate them they may try to charge you and bite you,” Brown said.
Talley said she used to enjoy walking in the woods behind her house but now she is afraid to go out there by herself.
“It’s going to continue to happen until we can get something done about the number of hogs out here,” Talley said.
Talley said the hogs have repeatedly torn up her property and made it impossible to keep her yard maintained.
“I can’t mow my lawn because it’s so rough and tore up,” Talley said.
Talley’s neighbor Pam Shirley, who lives one-mile due west of Talley near Stuart, is also frustrated with the number of times her property has been damaged by the feral hogs.
“Its a bad situation,” Shirley said. “They are tearing up my pasture.”
Shirley said she has five acres of property that has been torn up.
“They dig pretty deep and they are bad out here,” Shirley said. “The state needs to do something about them. It is very frustrating.”
Shirley says she has cattle and worries that the feral hogs will spread disease to them.
“Hogs are known to carry disease and you don’t know what they could be carrying,” Shirley said. “I am very worried they will pass disease to my cattle.”
Shirley says the state needs to find a way to eradicate them.
“It’s hard to catch them,” Shirley said. “They (Oklahoma) need to find a way to poison them or something.”
Shirley said it costs the farmers and ranchers a lot of money to deal with this problem.
“We have to recondition the land from where they tear it up,” Shirley said. “They can tear up at least an acre a night.”
Shirley says if any of the cattle get sick and die from a disease that the hog gave them, there is also the expense of the lost livestock.
“There could also be a loss of hay if they were to tear up the hay meadows,” Shirley said.
Along with the Wildlife Services Division of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is taking steps to address the feral swine situation in Oklahoma. Brown said the hogs are mainly active at night.
“If someone was to see them in the daytime it would be unusual,” Brown said “It is more likely to see them at night when they do all their damage.”
Brown said for around a dozen years now, feral hogs have been spreading from Texas to Oklahoma. Brown said there are things that land owners can do to help the situation.
“The most effective way is to trap them,” Brown said. “The hogs are found in groups called sounders. Often time the entire sounder of hogs will enter the trap and then exterminate them once they are trapped. They are considered a nuisance and an invasive species.”
The Wildlife Department has recently made night-shooting exemptions available for registered properties.
A permit is issued that grants landowners the ability to legally shoot feral hogs at night when they are most active.
Brown said for more information to visit the ODWC website at www.wildlifedepartment.com.
Landowners who have experienced depredation due to feral swine can contact the state Agriculture Department’s Wildlife Services Division at (405) 521-4039.
Contact Lacey Sudderth at email@example.com