Last week, South Carolina joined the ranks of states that are adopting an increasingly hard line to control feral hog populations. The South Carolina House voted 97 to 1 to allow hunters to use “almost any means” to reduce the state’s growing numbers of the critters.
Specifically, the bill (H.4943), would allow night hunting and more of feral hogs, coyotes and armadillos from March through June. In moving to the Senate, the bill is now under consideration in its Committee on Fish, Game and Forestry. If passed by both state houses, hunters will be allowed to use bait, electronic calls and night vision devices, according to a report on thestate.com.
"We're not talking about hunting. We need to take these animals out any way we can,” says State Rep. Mike Pitts, R-Laurens.
State Rep. Phillip Lowe, R-Florence, introduced the bill in March and used the war analogy, contending that extreme measures were necessary to slow the population boom of feral hogs and coyotes in particular.
While feral hogs have long been found in South Carolina, within the last 20 years they have moved from the Low-country to spread across the state. Coyotes have arrived more recently, within the past 20 years, and armadillos are “recent invaders”, but are mostly along the coast.
In 2008, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources estimated the state’s feral hog population at 150,000. However DNR officials themselves say that’s simply a guess. In recent years, the DNR’s “deer hunter survey”, shows hunters report killing about 35,000 hogs and 30,000 coyotes each year.
Michigan, which has garnered the most attention in the battle against controlling feral hogs, implemented the states “invasive species act” on the animals as of April 1. Other states, including Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Kansas and Texas have implemented control measures recently or are considering stringent plans.
A look at the South Carolina bill is available here.