The Missouri Feral Hog Elimination Partnership is an ongoing project in Missouri aimed at curbing the northward expansion of feral pigs, which are considered a destructive species. In 2022, the partnership reported a decrease in the number of feral pigs killed compared to the previous year. A total of 6,289 hogs were removed, which is about a third less than in 2021 when 9,857 hogs were eliminated.
Despite the decline in the number of feral pigs eradicated, officials view this as a positive trend. They attribute the decrease to the success of their intensified efforts and believe that there are simply fewer hogs remaining in the landscape. In 2020, a record high of 12,635 feral pigs were killed, but the following years saw a decline in sightings and removals.
The feral pig populations are mostly concentrated in the southern part of Missouri. The Ozark region, particularly, is home to the majority of the population. It is believed that the pigs have migrated north from Arkansas and have also been introduced to the area.
The Missouri Feral Hog Elimination Partnership employs trapping methods as its primary approach to target and capture the entire sounder (a group of pigs). Hunting is discouraged as an effective control method because when hunters only kill a few pigs from a group, the remaining pigs scatter and may move into new areas. This makes it more challenging to locate and remove them. The partnership works closely with private landowners, utilizing large ground traps and employing 48 full-time hog trappers. In addition, eight drones equipped with infrared imaging have been used for night operations.
Missouri’s approach of focusing on trapping rather than hunting is in contrast to some other states. Since 2016, Missouri has strongly discouraged hog hunting as a population control method and has banned it on state-managed lands. The concern is that recreational hog hunters unintentionally disperse sounders and may encourage the presence of feral pigs on the landscape.
Feral pigs pose various problems, including carrying diseases, damaging crops and natural habitats, and competing with native species for food. The Missouri Feral Hog Elimination Partnership aims to mitigate these issues through coordinated efforts with the goal of reducing the feral pig population in the state.