MADISON – State wildlife officials are encouraging hunters who have small game licenses heading out for Wisconsin’s traditional nine-day gun deer hunting season to keep an eye out for feral pigs. Since 1997 feral pigs have been found in at least 39 Wisconsin counties.
Feral pigs in Manitowoc County - 2004
“Each year we receive reports of feral pig sightings and harvests from around the state,” says Brad Koele, wildlife damage specialist for Department of Natural Resources. “Most of these reports are of 1 or 2 pigs. However, any report of feral pigs is of interest and concern given the negative impacts they can have on the environment, Wisconsin’s agriculture production and our domestic swine industry.”
Feral pigs have been defined as “existing in an untamed or wild, unconfined state, having returned to such a state from domestication.” Feral pigs can be found across a wide variety of habitats and are highly destructive because of the rooting they do in search of food. They’re also efficient predators preying on many species including white-tailed deer fawns and ground nesting birds like grouse, woodcock, turkeys, and songbirds.
Feral pigs are known to carry a number of diseases of danger to humans and the domestic swine industry, including swine brucellosis, pseudorabies and leptospirosis. In 2008 a feral pig shot during the gun deer hunting season in Crawford County initially tested “positive” for pseudorabies however because of the poor sample quality test results could not be labeled definitive.
For removal purposes, feral pigs are currently considered unprotected wild animals and may be hunted year-round. The only day they cannot be hunted with a gun is the Friday before the nine-day gun deer hunting season. Also, feral pig hunting hours are the same as for deer during the nine-day season. During the rest of the year, there are no hunting hour restrictions for feral pigs.
There is no bag limit on feral pigs. Landowners may shoot feral pigs on their own property without a hunting license. Anyone else can shoot a feral pig as long as they possess a valid small game license, sport license, or patron license and have landowner permission if they are on private land.
While the Department encourages the removal of feral pigs when ever possible, Koele cautions that before shooting “hunters need to be sure the pigs are feral and they are not someone’s domestic pigs that may have just escaped. Hunters could be liable for the replacement cost of the pig if they are domestic.”
Information on feral pig hunting, including a list of counties where feral pigs have been sighted or killed, is available on the Department of Natural Resources Web site.
State officials request that anyone shooting a feral pig call a DNR service center or contact a DNR wildlife biologist so that blood and tissue samples can be collected for disease testing in collaboration with USDA and the State veterinarians office.
Feral pig sightings can be reported through the DNR Web site or by calling Brad Koele, Wildlife Damage Specialist at (608) 266-2151.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brad Koele - (608) 266-2151 or Dave Matheys - (608) 637-3938
Source: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources