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Tennessee new wild hog management now in effect

From Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

-- New regulations regarding wild hog management in Tennessee are now in effect. Changes to wild hog management in Tennessee came as a response to concerns from landowners, the Tennessee Legislature, the Farm Bureau and Wildlife Resources Agency biologists.

Wild hogs have been removed from big game status to a non-protected nuisance animal marked for eradication. Wild hogs cause extensive damage to farm crops, wildlife habitat, contribute to extreme erosion and stream pollution, and carry diseases harmful to livestock or other animals as well as humans.

A primary reason for wild hogs' rapid spread is illegal movement by those who wish to establish hog populations for hunting in areas that may have little or no wild hog populations.After consulting with other states facing similar problems, the regulations have been changed to allow landowners great leeway to control hogs on their property while removing incentives to transport wild hogs to establish new or increased hunting opportunities, specifically for wild hogs.

The two factors involved in implementing the changes are that hunting is an inefficient way to control wild hogs and does not offset the high survival and reproductive rate of wild hogs, and illegal transport and release is the leading contributing factor in the spread of wild hogs.

In cooperation with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, it is now illegal to transport or own an undocumented wild appearing hog.

The WRA is implementing a 5-pronged approach to wild hog eradication in Tennessee:

Eliminate Status:  Wild hogs have been removed from big game status and placed in a nuisance category.

Eliminate Hog Hunting: Special provisions have been implemented for landowners and their designees to control wild hogs on their lands. However, sport hunting of wild hogs is legal on only specific wildlife management areas as a part of an overall eradication program for those WMAs. Data indicates that sport hunting for wild hogs only adds to the incentive to create new and expanding populations. Similar to the provisions used by many landowners, the WRA will begin intensive eradication measures on WMAs by trapping, which has been shown to be a much more efficient reduction method.

Increase Landowner Control Opportunities: As a non-protected species, private landowners and family members or tenants are exempt for purchasing a license for that property may freely take wild hogs with methods legal for taking big game or small game without license or permission from the TWRA.Landowners may now trap wild hogs without permit but no live hog may be removed from the traps.

Landowners who seek a method exemption (e.g., shooting at night, shooting over bait) may contact the local WRA office. They will immediately be issued an exemption once they provide their name and location of property. Landowners may have up to 10 designees on the exemption form to assist with the wild hog eradication on their property. There is a special eradication program in Cumberland, Overton, Fentress and Pickett counties that allows landowners to use dogs under the methods exemption.

Increase Enforcement:  Illegal transport of wild hogs was nearly impossible to enforce under the previous regulations. Tennessee's Department of Agriculture (TDA) has jurisdiction over confined swine while the TWRA has jurisdiction over unconfined swine.

Increase Public Awareness:  The agency will work with a variety of organizations to ensure landowners know the consequences of having wild hogs on or near their property. The $1.5 billion lost annually because of wild hog damage, plus the potential crippling effects that disease transmission could have on the livestock industry, and the severe habitat destruction caused by wild hogs are evidence of a need to act as quickly and decisively as possible.

A guiding management plan created with multi-agency input with multi-level approaches is required to attain sufficient pressure on wild hog populations in Tennessee. Complete eradication of wild hogs is the ultimate goal for the TWRA and others, but the agency understands the scale of the hog problem in Tennessee and realizes this is an unlikely goal. However, the TWRA will identify areas where hogs can be eradicated and work diligently to remove hogs from those areas. The TWRA will also work in cooperation with state and federal agencies, and other partners to assist landowners in alleviating problems wherever possible.