Deer hunters left to answer important question: Are feral hogs back in Illinois?

Nobody knows the woods like deer hunters, which is why it will be interesting to see how they answer one of the questions DNR is surely going to include on the annual post-season hunter survey.

“Did you see any feral swine this season?”

As Tim Bunton writes in the upcoming Feb. 10 issue of Illinois Outdoor News , deer hunters may be the ones to solve a mystery that has DNR and farmers in west-central Illinois on edge: have wild hogs re-grouped in west-central Illinois?

Back in 2011, DNR took an aggressive approach with feral swine, which at the time had been confirmed in 14 counties, including Fulton County to the north of Pike and Sangamon County to the east. DNR biologists teamed with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to eradicate the population. As recently as two years ago, it was thought that very few of the hogs remained in the state.

But according to a recent report in the Quincy Herald-Whig, Pike County Farm Bureau Executive Director Blake Roderick said his organization was planning a meeting with DNR to address new feral swine fears.

“Loose hogs are probably part of the problem,” Roderick said. “But there are some feral hog aspects here.”

A study conducted by the Illinois Natural History Survey interviewed more than 3,000 Illinois farmers and found that they are worried about property damage caused by feral hogs. The study found that 84 percent of surveyed farmers in Illinois agree that feral hogs should be eliminated whenever possible.

As for hunters, they can only harvest feral swine during the Illinois firearms deer seasons. We’ve put in an inquiry to try to find out how many feral hogs were killed this season, if any.

Stay tuned.

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