Landowners rally in Jefferson City against Mark Twain National Forest feral hog hunting ban
Brad Parker considers the feral hog problem to be personal.
"We're cattle farmers, and we did have crops in the river bottoms that we now cannot plant because of the hogs," Parker said.
The wild pigs ruined his field, costing him thousands of dollars last year.
"These hogs are thriving," Parker said. "They have three litters a year. We're struggling to even stay in the balance, much less get ahead of them."
The Missouri Conservation Department has been trying to control the number of feral hogs on its land by trapping, not hunting. The MDC says it's a more effective way to get rid of the hogs.
"I can count countless places of state property where they haven't been eradicated," said Rob Elder of the Missouri Hunting & Working Dog Alliance. "So, the solution is to turn over 1.5 million more acres of federal property to the same tactics that can't get rid of hogs on 5,000 acres in Sam A. Baker Park?"
Last month, the U.S. Forest Service banned hunting hogs in the Mark Twain National Forest. Only turkey and deer hunters can kill a hog in the national forest if they come across one. Killing hogs on private property in the forest is still allowed.
Elder is worried, especially for hunters who have dogs.
"I'm a normal citizen. Now, if I kill a hog on federal property, I can be fined $5,000 and be a federal criminal. So, you've turned normally good people into possibly being federal criminals," Elder said.
Elder doesn't think the MDC or the U.S. Forest Service is listening.
"It's pretty to easy to say, 'Well he wants to hunt the hogs because they're fun.' No," Elder said. "They're on my families property. They're not fun. We don't think that we've had a seat at the table."
When asked for a statement on Wednesday's rally, the MDC emailed