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Feral Swine Update – H.B. 475

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House Bill 475 wants to take care of wild hog problem.

They’re ravaging crops, and they’re chomping into farmers’ wallets too. Fiesty feral hogs are causing millions of dollars in damage to farms across the state.

“They got in there and tore up approximately 10 acres. You know, 2,000 bushels and at $5 a bushel, that’s $10,000,” Dooly County farmer Bruce West said.

That’s just one cornfield wild hogs tore through on West’s 1,600-acre farm.

“We caught four in a trap the other night. The smallest one was about 250 pounds, the biggest one was 300 pounds,” he said.

“You want to make sure all of them are caught at the same time, or else you’re educating the ones that aren’t caught that there’s a trap,” West said.

It’s a headache felt from these dirt roads to the state legislature.

State Representative Tom McCall of Elberton proposed House Bill 475, which aims to remove restrictions on hunting hogs.

We were unable to reach McCall for comment on Monday.

“House Bill 475 will allow us to hunt hogs anytime, with virtually any weapon, under any conditions,” said Jay Porter, Dooly County’s cooperative extension agent.

Porter says right now, there are certain restrictions on hunting hogs, unless you’re shooting them on your own property.

“During deer season, you’d only be hunting hogs with deer-legal weapons, same as with turkey season,” Porter said.

If the bill passes, you’d be able to hunt hogs from a car, at night with a light, and without a hunting license.

Porter says it might not be the complete solution, but it’s a way to at least contain the wild hog population, which he says grows at an explosive rate.

“Just because it has four hooves and walks around, in my mind, it’s no different than pig-weed. We need to stop it,” he said. “Feral pigs are a pest and should be treated as a pest.”

He says there are also possible human health risks if, for example, a hunter with a hand wound touches an infected hog. But if the meat is cooked by USDA regulations, Porter says it’s safe.

There’s no action scheduled at the Capitol yet on House Bill 475.