Georgia Bill Aims for Open Season on Wild Hogs

A new bill seeks to lift hog hunting restrictions in Georgia.

A new bill seeks to lift hog hunting restrictions in Georgia.

Like most states with a feral hog population, Georgia has relatively lax regulations on hunting invasive swine. Yet that does not mean that there are no restrictions at all—especially on public land. Currently, sportsmen are restricted to certain weapons depending on the season, prohibited from night hunting, and cannot shoot pigs from a vehicle. A new bill in the Georgia house would do away with these restrictions, vastly expanding the options available to Georgia hunters.

“This [bill] would make the feral hogs not ‘wildlife.’ They’re a nuisance is what they are,” the bill’s sponsor, State Representative Tom McCall (R-Elberton), told The Telegraph.

McCall said he introduced House Bill 475 to further reduce the state’s feral pig population, which is quickly becoming a problem for the agricultural industry. Though hogs are catastrophically destructive in the wild and can spread parasites and disease to other wildlife, it is perhaps their impact on farms that is most widely felt. According to the Athens Banner Herald, a survey of 41 Georgia counties in 2011 found that pigs were responsible for $81 million in farm damages, especially to crops like peanuts and cotton. There are few natural predators for the swine in Georgia, and biologists say that the pigs will likely breed too fast for any one predator to make much of a dent in the overall state population. Biologists are now relying on hunting and trapping to suppress, if not eradicate, the pig population.

“The most effective method for controlling feral hogs is a combination of shooting, live trapping and hunting with dogs,” stated the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on its website.

Like farmers and ranchers, hunters also have a big stake in reducing the wild hog population. Among other things, feral pigs compete with popular game animals like deer, wild turkey, and ruffed grouse. In fact, the DNR previously stated that wild hogs are one of the top dangers to the state’s deer population due to their ability to dominate food supplies.

“Feral hogs are omnivorous and will eat anything from grain to carrion,” the DNR said, adding that hogs will travel up to seven miles to find food.

They are also more active at night, which makes night hunting generally more successful. If House Bill 475 is passed, hunters will also be able to hunt hogs from the air like in other states. The bill currently waiting to be scheduled for a hearing.

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