Outdoors: Feral hogs create problems across U.S.

OK, let’s wallow for a few moments. I’m going to talk about pigs. Not pot-bellied pigs, not barnyard pigs, not Porky Pig. No, the oinkers I will discuss are big, mean and nasty.

There are an estimated 5 to 6 million wild boars in the U.S. They can grow up to 500 pounds. And if you get run over by one, it would almost be like being hit by a train.

Not a widespread problem in Ohio at this point; there are problem areas in southeast Ohio. Several sightings closer to Dayton have been in Brown, Preble, Champaign and Darke counties.

“So far, it’s not been a problem in this area,” said Todd Haines, district manager for the Ohio Division of Wildlife in southwest Ohio. “If there are reports, we work with (U.S. Department of Agriculture) Wildlife Services people, providing cameras and other equipment.”

Damage caused by wild boars, an invasive species in Ohio, has been estimated to be $800 million annually across the U.S. According to an ODNR report, that estimate was in 2000. “Since then, feral swine distribution has expanded greatly, increasing this figure significantly,” the report said.

Feral pigs damage all kinds of crops, gardens, property and natural resources.

“Feral swine are omnivorous feeders and will eat almost anything in their path. As a predator, feral swine will consume invertebrates, small vertebrates and even the young of larger animals such as white-tailed deer and livestock. Feral swine will also feed on the eggs and young of ground-nesting birds, reptiles, and amphibians,” the report said.

The report went on to say, “Feral swine are highly mobile disease reservoirs and can carry at least 30 important viral and bacterial diseases and a minimum of 37 parasites that can affect people, pets, livestock and wildlife. In Ohio, two diseases of great concern are swine brucellosis and pseudorabies, which can infect both domestic and wild animal species.”

Those who hunt feral swine are encouraged to wear rubber gloves when butchering and to cook all meat thoroughly.

New training program: The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has announced the formation of the ODNR Law Enforcement Training Program.

“Our officers are required to receive the same training and abide by the unique identity, but now they will be cohesively trained in their region with less time spent traveling,” said ODNR director James Zehringer.

Officers are trained on procedures such as defensive tactics, response to resistance and aggression, firearms and field scenarios. In the case of an emergency, they act as backup support.

Trainings will now be done regionally in smaller groups, allowing for more flexibility and less time out of the field while reducing travel and overnight expenses, allowing officers to train at the nearest facility, and providing Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy certifications.

While the decision to bring the divisions together for unified training has merit, one has to wonder if it is the first step toward the creation of an ODNR police force and perhaps even doing away with the divisions.

Archery instruction: Classroom teachers and other members of school communities who are interested in becoming certified National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) instructors are invited to attend a workshop on Feb. 15 at the Spring Valley Shooting Range at 3450 Houston Road, Waynesville. It will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. The course is free and pre-registration is required by Feb. 14. For more information or to sign up, visit naspbai.org.

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