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OPINION | EDITORIAL: This little piggie

Didn’t have roast beef, for sure June 20, 2022 at 4:15 a.m.

"In their eyes, there's something lacking/

What they need's a damn good whacking."

--"Piggies" by The Beatles

If you live, work or drive through rural Arkansas, you know that feral hogs are a problem. They cause millions of dollars in damage every year for row-crop farmers. And they'll even eat small domestic animals. No telling how much harm they cause to turkey and quail populations--because eggs are their favorite breakfast.

And just try planting a tomato garden next to a patch of woods. One unlucky night, and all your work will be gone. Eaten and trampled and dug up.

These things aren't just pests. They are officially categorized as an invasive species. And with big cats and wolves driven out of Arkansas (almost) completely, the only predator feral hogs have is . . . us.

So "us" has to do something.

The Business Section of this paper reports on another effort to decrease the size of the feral hog population. The story was in the Business Section because this is very much a business story. The last survey from the feds says that in Arkansas alone, feral swine cause $34 million in damage to row crops and pecans, and $7.3 million in damage to livestock.

Each. Year.

The headline and lede about the state's new efforts in pig control used the word "eliminate." That would be a neat trick, given that wild sows can breed up to three times a year and have up to a dozen piglets each time. No wonder they're running wild in the wild.

A watchful farmer with a good eye and steady hand might put down three or four each fall, but unless he's got a trap set, he's not likely to put a dent in the local sounder.

According to the paper, the state's Feral Hog Eradication Task Force culled about 30,000 pigs already this year. That's a good start. But only a start. The state Department of Agriculture has announced grants for other eradication efforts. And it seems that several state agencies are participating.

Good. This should be a multiple-front war. The Game and Fish Commission is letting hunters at 'em by loosening restrictions on when folks can hunt wild hogs. Siccing trappers on them is a good idea, too. And surely there are other projects that the state can encourage.

We like the idea of fostering more populations of predators, and we don't mean us. We mean like those big cats and wolves that we spent the last two centuries running off. (Which is euphemism for killing them every chance we got.) A local Sunday columnist for this paper has been encouraging this idea for years. We won't mention his name, but his initials are Richard Mason.

He has also proposed putting a $10 bounty on the head of the pigs, which would encourage a lot of folks to put out traps. We've seen documented video evidence (read: YouTube) of dozens of pigs being caught at once with overhead traps that fall down, capturing them in a cage. A bounty of $10 might prove the most cost-efficient way to reduce these herds.

Don't get us wrong, we like razorbacks--on the football field, baseball diamond and basketball court. But the real animal is a nuisance and a danger. And it's costing the state plenty already in lost crops and revenue. Let's go at this problem from every angle.

What they need's a damn good whacking.


Print Headline: This little piggie

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