Tennessee’s New Wild Hog Management Now in Effect

Wednesday, August 10, 2011 | 09:33 am
NASHVILLE --- 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 Tennessee 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. Therefore, in consultation 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 TWRA recognizes two important factors in implementing these changes: (1) hunting is an inefficient way to control wild hogs and does not offset the high survival and reproductive rate of wild hogs (2) illegal transport and release is the leading contributing factor in the spread of wild hogs. In cooperation with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, measures have been implemented which make it illegal to transport or own an undocumented wild appearing hog.
 
The TWRA 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. While the TWRA obviously supports hunting, 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 TWRA 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 their family members or tenants that 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 wishing to get a method exemption (e.g., shooting at night, shooting over bait) may contact their local TWRA office and 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 for the TWRA to enforce under the previous regulations. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) has jurisdiction over confined swine while the TWRA has jurisdiction over unconfined swine. In conjunction with the TDA and other state and federal agencies, the TWRA is working diligently to tighten enforcement abilities related to illegal transportation and release of wild hogs. 
 
Increase Public Awareness
Current efforts to eradicate hogs, rather than manage wild hogs, will understandably be met with some misunderstanding and resistance. However, the problems related to wild hogs have risen to a critical level and will only get worse without intervention by government agencies, private organizations and the public in general.
 
The TWRA 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.
 
TWRA Wild Hog Proclamation Overview
 
Landowners may use the following methods without exemption.
 
1.      Any legal weapon and ammunition for taking big and small game during
daylight hours.
 
2.      Live traps with bait. Bait may not be used during big game seasons without
an approved exemption. All targeted wild hogs must be dispatched before
removal from the trap.
 
Landowners will be granted an exemption to the above upon request.
 
1)                   Landowners may request a wild hog methods exemption by two means:
 
a)       Immediate issuance of an exemption when landowners provide information to
agency personnel on the phone. The exemption form number issued will serve
as their proof of exemption until the hardcopy arrives by mail.
 
b)       Landowners may visit a regional office or request an officer visit to complete a request for exemption.
 
2)                  Landowners, family members legally allowed to hunt the property without a license, and up to 10 designees may assist in the control effort provided by the methods exemption. No more than 10 individuals may be used as designees annually, as defined by the TWRA’s calendar year (ending Dec. 31). A notice will be sent in December to landowners and they will have the option to renew.
 
3)                  The exemption will allow shooting at night with the aid of artificial light, shooting over bait during big game season, or any other methods, approved by TWRA.  Dogs may be used as part of the experimental management program in Overton, Fentress, Cumberland and Pickett counties, but no dogs may be used during November or December.
 
4)                  Landowners must keep accurate records of total number of hogs killed on their property. This information must be provided to the TWRA on the provided Wild Hog Methods Exemption Report form provided by the agency within one month of exemption expiration.
 
Possession of wild appearing hogs.
 
Possession or transportation of live wild-appearing hogs, without documentation from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture indicating such swine originated from a legal captive source, is prohibited.
 
---TWRA---