Letters: Not Wild About Hog Hunting

As someone standing on the front lines in the war against wild hogs, I was quite pleased to see the League feature an article raising awareness of this horrific catastrophe that is about to plague America (Outdoor America 2014, Issue 4). However, I was deeply disappointed that the article mentions the number one cause of the rapid spread of wild hogs – recreational or sport hunting – but erroneously implies that it is a useful tool to be used against hogs. Nothing could be further from the truth!

This is in no way, shape, or form a knock against hunting – it is by far the most useful tool state agencies employ to control game populations. The problem with using hunting to eliminate wild hogs is that it goes completely against the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, which holds that wildlife is a resource to be held in the public trust for all to enjoy. As you know, sportsmen and women of this great country are the cornerstone for upholding that model, and it is founded heavily on the hunting tradition. The problem stems from the fact that if hunters enjoy the sport of hog hunting, then why in the world would they contribute to the demise or elimination of their recreational opportunities? They won’t. In fact, in many situations, the spread of wild hogs can be directly tied to the movement of hogs by unscrupulous individuals who wish to pursue them in the name of sport.

New tactics need to be employed in this war. Tennessee is proud to be a part of developing these new tactics, one of which is the elimination of sport hog hunting. We understand that states in the deep South, steeped in hog hunting tradition, cannot take this approach. However, states with fledgling hog populations would be foolish to continue or start the tradition of hog hunting.

When Tennessee declared a statewide hog season in the early 1990s, the two small pockets of hogs in east Tennessee spread like wildfire throughout the state. In 2011, Tennessee eliminated the sport hunting of hogs, and their spread appeared to diminish significantly. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency also liberalized the means for landowners to kill wild hogs and provides technical assistance in trapping hogs whenever possible. Tennessee is now seen as a leader in the fight against wild hogs and has been invited to assist the U.S. Department of Agriculture in developing a national wild hog policy.

Again, I applaud your efforts in trying to elevate the wild hog issue to the national level. However, promoting the recreational aspects of hog hunting may cause more harm than good. If you would like additional information on Tennessee’s involvement in this issue, we would be more than happy to speak with you and share our experiences.

Daryl Ratajczak
Chief of Wildlife and Forestry Division, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency
Life Member, Izaak Walton League of America
Thompson Station, Tennessee