State wildlife officials are encouraging hunters heading out for Wisconsin’s traditional nine-day gun deer hunting season to keep an eye out for feral pigs. Feral pig sightings and harvests should be reported on the Department of Natural Resource’s website: dnr.wi.gov keyword “Feral Pigs.”
Since 1997 feral pigs have been reported in at least 51 Wisconsin counties, although not all of these reports have been verified. “Each year we receive reports of feral pig sightings and harvests from around the state,” says Brad Koele, DNR wildlife damage specialist. “Fortunately most of these reports turn out to be domestic pigs that were running loose. However, any report of feral pigs is of interest and concern given the negative impacts they can have on habitat, Wisconsin’s agriculture, and domestic swine industry.”
For removal purposes, feral pigs are currently considered unprotected wild animals and may be hunted year-round, with the exception of the Friday before opening day of the nine-day gun deer hunting season when it’s not allowed. Also, feral pig hunting hours are the same as for deer during the nine-day season. During the rest of the year, there are no hunting hour restrictions for feral pigs.
There is no bag limit on feral pigs. Landowners may shoot feral pigs on their own property without a hunting license. Anyone else can shoot a feral pig as long as they possess a valid small game license, sport license, or patron license and have landowner permission if they are on private land.
Feral pigs are defined as existing in an untamed or wild, unconfined state, having returned to such a state from domestication. Feral pigs can be found across a wide variety of habitats and are highly destructive because of the rooting they do in search of food. They’re also efficient predators preying on many species including white-tailed deer fawns and ground nesting birds like grouse, woodcock, turkeys, and songbirds.
Feral pigs are known to carry a number of diseases of danger to humans and the domestic swine industry, including swine brucellosis, pseudorabies and leptospirosis.
While the DNR encourages the removal of feral pigs whenever possible, Koele cautions that before shooting hunters need to be sure the pigs are feral and they are not someone’s domestic pigs that may have just escaped. Hunters could be liable for the replacement cost of the pig if they are domestic.
State officials request that anyone shooting a feral pig call a DNR service center or contact a DNR wildlife biologist so that blood and tissue samples can be collected for disease testing in collaboration with USDA and the state veterinarians’ office.
Additional information on feral pigs and feral pig hunting is available on the DNR website: dnr.wi.gov keyword search “feral pigs.”
Logo courtesy Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources