Category Archives: Breaking news

Attwater prairie chicken propagation program success does not bode well for lesser prairie chickens

Friday’s Wichita Eagle article on wildlife biologists disagreeing with Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan to raise and release lesser prairie chickens gave passing mention to a program that releases pen-raised Attwater’s prairie chickens  on the remnant prairies along the Texas gulf.

YOU CAN CLICK HERE TO READ FRIDAY’S ARTICLE.

 

A current plan to raise and release lesser prairie chickens, like these, is drawing criticism, even from Texas biologists releasing Attwater prairie chickens.

A current plan to raise and release lesser prairie chickens, like these, is drawing criticism, even from Texas biologists releasing Attwater prairie chickens.

— Below you’ll find more information gathered from two Texas biologists working with Attwater prairie chickens, one of the most critically endangered species in America.

— A propagation program in Texas for endangered Attwater prairie chickens, a close relative to lesser prairie chickens, costs about $1,000 per released bird, according to Terry Rossignol, Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge manager.

— Mike Morrow, a Texas biologist working with endangered Attwater prairie chickens, said the federal program of raising and releasing the birds is “a last resort” because of high mortality rates and costs.

— In 1900 it was estimated 1 million Attwaters lived across a wide swath of Texas and into Louisiana. By 1937 the population was in the tens of thousands because of loss of habitat. The low was in 2005 when only 40 birds survived, mostly on the Atwatter Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge.

— Since the mid-1990s, 200 to 400 captive-reared Attwaters have been released annually on about 70,000 acres of Texas coastal plain. Mike Morrow, a biologist at the refuge,  said the entire population was at about 100 birds prior to this spring’s releases.
– He also said Kansas lessers probably wouldn’t be as expensive to raise, but added, “ … it’s not going to be cheap.”

 – Morrow said the Fish and Wildlife Service started the Attwater propagation program with captive hens in 1992, when the wild population was about 500 birds, but dropping rapidly. Loss of habitat was a major reason, but they also learned that red imported fire ants, an invasive species, had been outcompeting chicks for the insects needed for food and, in some cases, had been killing the chicks.

—Morrow said the Texas release program has been making improvements over the past several years, and that about 16 percent of young Attwater prairie chickens released live at least one year. Adult birds have an annual mortality rate of about 50 percent.

— Treating areas to kill fire ants seems to be helping survival rates of the Attwaters that are released from six to 12 weeks of age. Some hens have raised broods the year after they were released.

— Still, he would prefer other options.

— “The only reason we’re doing it is because we had no choice. We weren’t raising enough chicks in the wild to sustain the population,” Morrow said. “Ultimately such things are almost always a habitat issue.”

— “Maybe if you get a bump in the population it will make the captive breeding program go away,” said Morrow.

Lesser prairie chicken numbers increase about 20 percent

lesserprairiechickenblog _mp02An aerial survey conducted this spring found that America’s lesser prairie chicken population had increased about 20 percent since the same study area was flown in 2013.

A Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism press release said biologists were estimating  the population at 22,415 birds this year, compared to 18,747 last spring. The 2012 estimate was more than 30,000 birds. Several years of drought has greatly hurt lesser prairie chicken numbers by denying the grouse good nesting areas, safe places to raise chicks and cover from predators through the seasons.

Done during the early spring breeding season, the study only logs adult birds since the year’s chicks have yet to be hatched.

The press release credited good reproduction last year in the mixed grass prairie region of south-central  Kansas and some places in the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles. Reproduction was down again in the sand-sage prairies of southwestern Kansas and bordering regions in other states because of the drought.

Though it is too early to get a feel for this year’s reproduction, weather systems have dropped some impressive rains across most of the lesser prairie chicken’s range, including part of western Kansas. Some nice broods have been reported earlier in the west-central Kansas region that includes Gove and Logan counties, where some of the state’s best lesser prairie chicken populations thrived before the drought began about three years ago.

lesserprairiechickenblog _mp01This spring the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service placed lesser prairie chickens on their threatened species list. Since, a number of lawsuits have been filed by groups on both sides of the issue. Many agriculture and energy groups want the bird removed from all listing, stating populations only need rains to recover. They also complain the new federal regulations could greatly cripple the ways they do business and greatly hurt the rural economies with those areas.

Some environmental groups are pushing to have the birds upgraded to the endangered list, citing how the population fell by 50 percent during last year’s surveys.

Casts and Blasts about the Hausermans, world champion pistol shooters

As is often the case, there was more to the story on Sunday’s Outdoors page about Dakota and Daniel Hauserman than space to print it. They’re the Wichita niece/uncle team that won world championships at the 2014 World Action Pistol Championship in Kentucky last month.

YOU CAN CLICK HERE TO READ SUNDAY’S OUTDOORS PAGE FEATURE.

Wichita's Dakota Hauserman, 25, won a championship at the 2014 World Action Pistol Championship at Park City, Ky two weeks ago.

Wichita’s Dakota Hauserman, 25, won a championship at the 2014 World Action Pistol Championship at Park City, Ky two weeks ago.

– While they only shot about 250 rounds of ammo during the actual competition, many competitors may have fired up to 2,000 practice rounds.

– Not Dakota, she passed up several chances to go to the practice range with her uncle and father, Dhon. “I told them I was there on vacation, so I was going to just sit around and relax at least part of the time,” she said.

– Dakota made the trip with her favorite pistol partners, but not her favorite hunting partner. That would be her pint-sized pomeranian, Hans, who mostly just keeps her company. One time hunting geese near the edge of her family’s rural Sedgwick County home, Dakota dropped a big Canada that hit with just a broken wing. She tried to get Hans involved in fetching the bird. “He just took a look and headed for the house,” Dakota said, shaking her head and laughing aloud as she remembered the hunt.

– Hans will not be making the trip to Florida when Dakota heads south to start law school later this year. He’ll stay with her parents, which is a great way for them to insure she’ll come home over school breaks.

– Dakota also won’t have a boyfriend following her to Florida, either. “I’m just too busy to mess with a boyfriend,” she said.

She’s also found that too many young men are intimidated by her favorite pastime and her scholastic success. “If it’s not when I start talking about guns, it’s when I start talking about law school,” she said. “Either one, they’re usually gone. That’s really too bad.”

Daniel, left, and Dakota are all smiles after winning world pistol championships. Well, Dakota is smiling, anywa.

Daniel, left, and Dakota are all smiles after winning world pistol championships. Well, Dakota is smiling, anyway.

– As for hunting, Dakota said she likes ducks the best because, “That’s where the action is. I like doves, too.” She and her family hunt often around Fall River. Her deer rifle is a .243 Browning semi-automatic.

– Cameras make Dakota more nervous that gunning for world championships. Thursday, it took her “several” tries to make a perfect run of six steel plates while being videoed.

– In the article, Dakota said she enjoyed shooting shotguns more than handguns or rifles. She’s won some clay target championships, too. Her greatest prize, “I think we got something like 200 pounds of sausage,” she said with a laugh.

– Dakota is currently working as a clerk and assistant in the office of Judge Phillip Journey, an experience she said will be hugely beneficial to her goal of being an attorney.

 

The crappie spawn is on!

ELK CITY STATE PARK – Born about 40 years apart, and one deep in his  aviation career and the other not far into her educational process, veteran angler J.R. Dunn and nine year-old Taylie McKlintic wouldn’t seem to have much in common.

J.R. Dunn fishes for crappie after a storm passes at Elk City Reservoir.

J.R. Dunn fishes for crappie after a storm passes at Elk City Reservoir.

But Monday evening both were wearing smiles equally wide, and both owed them to a favored rite of spring – the crappie spawn at Elk City Reservoir.

Dunn had spent much of the afternoon at a wide cove within the state park, a place he said he’d fished for about 40 years. He waded a few steps into the lake with waterproof boots, then used a pole about 12 to 14 feet long to lower a dainty crappie jig down into brush in a few feet of water.

“They haven’t been along the banks like they were before the snow hit (last week), but I hope they start doing a little better.,” Dunn said. “It’s time.” Others fishing along the shoreline agreed, it was down to a “could break loose at any hour” time of the spring.

Dunn caught five nice crappie within the first few minutes of his Monday trip to the lake, then things slowed down. A small, but intense thunderstorm on the horizon sent him to his home in Sycamore with nine. He was back as the storm passed, trying for more.

Taylie was fishing with Beau Schultz, coach of the baseball team at the local community college, and four year-old Bryor Schultz. She and the boy played in the mud and grass while minnows swimming below bobbers did the work. Schultz called one child or the other when one of those bobbers disappeared below the surface, and helped them get the fish to shore. Their first two crappie were gorgeous females about 14 inches long.

After a lull of about an hour after the storm, fishing action picked up all around the broad bay, and smaller bays that reached into the state park.

Kaylie McKlintic, left, shows a nice crappie she caught, while Bryor Schultz hides from the camera. They were fishing with Beau Schultz, center.

Kaylie McKlintic, left, shows a nice crappie she caught, while Bryor Schultz hides from the camera. They were fishing with Beau Schultz, center.

Dunn caught several more fish along a section of shoreline, while his friends did well with long rods from a fishing dock surrounded by brush.

J.R. Dunn lifts a crappie from the shallows at Elk City Reservoir.

J.R. Dunn lifts a crappie from the shallows at Elk City Reservoir.

Across a small cove from where Schultz fished with the two kids, Jon Nagel and a friend were doing well fishing close to shore and further into the cove. At one point they hollered to ask Schultz if he could spare a few minnows. He said he could, adding, “The guy at the bait shop in town is pretty generous. I know he gave me way more than I paid for, but he said it was important since I was taking the kids.”

Nagel and his friend ended up with about 20 crappie. He was back at about dawn the next morning. Dunn figured a lot of the same anglers would return Tuesday afternoon, too.

“A lot of people camp out here, but usually most of the crappie fishermen are locals,” Dunn said.  “I seem them out here every year. There’s a lot of crappie in this lake. It can be pretty danged good when everything gets right.”

Ticks nothing to fool about

This may be April Fools Day and this blog is no trick, but anybody who ignores the threat of ticks is a fool.

YOU CAN CLICK HERE to read one of the dozens of articles and research papers published annually about the threat the world’s tiniest terrorists are spreading across the country.

This isn’t a scare tactic, it’s a fact of the outdoors for this millennium.

Coating clothing with permathrin is one of the best ways to avoid getting ticks, when used properly.

Coating clothing with permethrin is one of the best ways to avoid getting ticks, when used properly.

I’ve spoken with several people, including some in Kansas, who have survived Lyme Disease and all have said it’s taken them months for recovery.

A good friend, Luke Templin, contracted Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever while turkey hunting on our farm last spring. Even though the disease was detected before any serious symptoms set in, it took him several weeks before he felt totally over the bad experience.

I’ve heard of people who have basically been crippled for life from Lyme Disease.  A young woman who several in my extended family knew died from the disease several years ago.

As someone who is in the outdoors a lot, I’ve been guilty of not taking the threat seriously enough. I’ve found more than 20 ticks on my body several times, I used to go entire springs and summers with no real prevention because I didn’t want to put chemicals on my body, and still don’t relish the concept, but…

Like many, now my favorite alternative is to treat my clothing with permethrin. It lasts for a few months, even through a few washings. I coated my camo, from boots to cap, with it on Monday morning and it’s been given plenty of time to dry. (You don’t want the stuff on your body when it’s wet!) I, and millions of others, recommend it highly, but be sure to read the directions before you apply it.

YOU CAN CLICK HERE FOR MORE ADVICE ON HOW TO AVOID TICKS. 

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lists lesser prairie chickens as threatened

A male lesser prairie chicken displaying for hens in Edwards County. The species has just been listed as threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

A male lesser prairie chicken displaying for hens in Edwards County. The species has just been listed as threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Citing rapid population declines because of loss of habitat and an on-going severe drought over much of the bird’s range, Thursday afternoon the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced they’ve listed lesser prairie chickens on their threatened species list. In fact, populations had dropped by about 50 percent from 2012 to 2013, according to surveys done last spring in Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

A Fish and Wildlife press release estimated the range-wide population to be at about 18,000 birds, of which probably 80 percent, or more, are in Kansas.

“The lesser prairie chicken is in dire straits,” Dan Ashe, Fish and Wildlife director, said in the press release. “Our determination that it warrants listing as a threatened species with a special rule acknowledges the unprecedented partnership efforts and leadership of the five range states for management of the species.” Ashe was referring to an on-going working partnership that’s been formed between the five states, many conservation, ranching and energy groups.

In the past, Robin Jennison, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism secretary, said it was hoped the partnership, and its detailed plans for protecting millions of acres of lesser prairie chicken habitat, would be enough to keep the birds from being listed.

 

Wildlife officials concerned at attempt to revoke Kansas’ endangered species act.

Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism secretary, Robin Jennison, on Thursday spoke with concern about a recent legislative attempt to repeal the Kansas endangered species act. It currently protects about 60 species of assorted Kansas wildlife and has been in place for about 40 years.

At a Topeka Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission meeting, Jennison  said the concept of revoking the endangered species act had been added to House Bill 2118, a bill which removed the red-bellied and smooth earth snakes from the state’s threatened and endangered species lists. Fear of damaging populations of both species has hindered land use in the Kansas City area. Jennison said the even more restrictive amendment had been added Thursday morning, as the bill was being discussed within the Senate Natural Resources Committee.

Sen. Larry Powell, R-Garden City, the committee chairman, added the amendment for total revocation shortly before the bill passed from committee. The bill has already passed the Kansas house and now awaits action in the full Senate.

Jennison already had great concerns with species, especially those endangered or threatened,  being managed by legislative mandates. Currently, he said, only four states do not have endangered species acts.

“Science needs to have some basis in these decisions,” said Jennison, who also warned of possible federal interventions should the state’s endangered species act be revoked.

Powell, who has consistently opposed the department on issues including wildlife habitat improvement, providing more public lands and endangered species, surprised the agency when he made Thursday’s amendment to the existing bill.

Jennison said he would “be shocked” if the existing bill passes through the Senate, but added the bill would certainly have some strong support and needed organized opposition.

“I know there are people in the legislature who think we should not have threatened and endangered species lists,” Jennison said.

Several times Commissioner Don Budd, a Kansas City developer, asked questions about red-bellied and smooth earth snakes, stating the department needed to use caution because their action could trigger more extreme, over-riding action from the legislature.

Jennison insisted the agency should act on what science says is best for a species. Rep. Will Carpenter, R-El Dorado, attended the evening session. Carpenter spent many years as a Wildlife and Parks Commissioner, and agreed with Jennison.

“You guys are in charge of the stewardship of the wildlife of this state,” Carpenter said to the commission. “You’ve got to be the voice.”

3-D Archery, great afternoon…even if you do get beaten by a kid

Jake Holem removes a well-shot arrow from a 3-D target. Yes, it's the one I missed totally. PHOTOS BY MICHAEL PEARCE

Jake Holem removes a well-shot arrow from a 3-D target. Yes, it’s the one I missed totally. PHOTOS BY MICHAEL PEARCE

Should you be wandering around out west of Clearwater anytime soon, please keep your eye out for an arrow.  It’s a Carbon Express, probably with neon yellow and green vanes.

It might be anywhere from five to ten miles west of town and about two miles either side of  103rd. I can get you no closer than that. I just know it’s not sticking into a foam antelope target like it should have been. But hey, that I only lost one arrow out of 48 fun, hunting-like animal targets won’t have me complaining.

Saturday I spent the afternoon, and some of the evening, at the Ninnescah Bowhunters 3-D archery range. My 11-year-old outdoor buddy, Jake Holem was with me, testing out his new bow. Kimberly, Jake’s mom, was along to enjoy the day outdoors, keep score, congratulate Jake on his mostly great ones…and console me on my many failures.

Once a month the long-standing archery club tucked down near the Ninnescah River, hosts a day or two of shooting at 3-D targets. They include foam, live-sized likenesses of assorted deer, caribou, mountain goats, coyotes, mountain lions, bobcats, bears, turkeys, a wolverine a super-sized cobra target Jake loved and the danged antelope target that seemed to have some force-shield that deflected my arrows.

Some shots were on open prairie...

Some shots were on open prairie…

Throughout the property club members have placed the targets in hunt-like situations. Some are down in nice timber and some are on tall grass prairie. Most are shot at ground level and a few from high ridges or elevated platforms.

Some offer complete views of the target. At a few stations you have to be about half contortionist to lean out, in, up or down to thread an arrow through a tiny opening surrounded by really big trees.

(To the member who  placed the shooting spot on a side–hill only a billy goat could climb, and only offered a tiny fraction of the standing bear for the target…nice try, I did NOT put an arrow into either of the Sequia-sized cottonwoods my arrow had to pass within inches of…so there!)

Different classes of shooters shoot from different places on each target. I enrolled in the “hunter” class, because that’s what I am, a bowhunter and not an avid target archer. Most of the shots were from 40 shots on in, with a lot around 30 yards. Much of the challenge is estimating the shooting range. Range finders aren’t allowed for those keeping score.

Jake was in one of the three youth classes, and had shots from about five to 23 yards.

Others were in river bottom timber. All were a lot of fun.

Others were in river bottom timber. All were a lot of fun.

The crowd was light, but the members on hand were very helpful and supportive. (And hopefully one will find that wayward arrow, too!)

We walked the course mostly on our own, Jake and I shooting while Kimberly kept score and tried not to laugh, (loud enough for me to hear, anyway,) at some of my shots.

Saturday afternoon the weather was stunning, and I particularly liked the walks down along the Ninnescah. With nothing but open air and deep water behind those ten or so targets concentration was important.

It was also just a danged pretty view, especially when Kimberly noticed a mature bald eagle sailing down the stream (the first she’d ever seen) and the bird perched on a limb across the river.

Darrell Allen, a member I’ve known for years, said it would take about three hours to do the course. Not our group of slow-pokes. They have you shoot the same 24 targets, twice, but they change the location from where you shoot. It took us more than four hours, with only a minimal rest in between, but a fair amount of time looking for my lost arrows.

My range estimation was a bit off on the first round, and I just knew I’d shoot better the second. But a lost arrow, and a couple of other total whiffs say differently. The angles and distances offered were harder on the second round. Fatigue also played a factor, too. Yes, Jake shot better than I did but I did OK, though.

Jake’s ready to go again, maybe back to Ninnescah Bowhunters or maybe a range by Hutchinson. Kimberly is also showing an interest in giving archery a try, and she may be rigged up with a bow in the next week or so.

Great, that means next shoot I may have two beginners putting me to shame. Oh well, …

photo 4As for the matter of that lost arrow. If you happen to live anywhere within a five mail radius of the 3-D course, and you happen to find an adult-sized arrow stuck in, say, your house, a tire on a automobile or a piece of lawn furniture…you have my sincere sympathy and complete denial. :-)

Click here for more information on Ninnescah Bowhunters.

 

 

Frozen Dead Guy Days celebrates a death, with LIFE!

NEDERLAND, Colo. -

The mountain town of Nederland may be the quirkiest village in Colorado, or maybe the nation.

The 13th Annual Frozen Dead Guy Days featured a parade, that included the many coffin racing crews. PHOTOS BY MICHAEL PEARCE

The 13th Annual Frozen Dead Guy Days featured a parade, that included the many coffin racing crews. PHOTOS BY MICHAEL PEARCE

It seems to have more tattoos than Sturgis, more body piercings than an acupuncture college and brighter hair colors than the autumn leaves in New England.

A sign at a crosswalk says “Nedestrian Crossing.”If the town had an official song it would be loud laughter, and their official tree would be an over-sized hemp plant.

Nederlanders are always up for a good time, and last weekend they shared it with visitors from across the country.

The event was their 13th annual Frozen Dead Guy Days, where the Colorado town that’s left of Boulder on a map, and even more so politically, celebrates exactly that – their very own frozen dead guy.

The Polar Plunge has visitors pay for the privilege of jumping into an ice-covered pond, as fans cheer and pelt them with snowballs.

The Polar Plunge has visitors pay for the privilege of jumping into an ice-covered pond, as fans cheer and pelt them with snowballs.

For about 25 years Bredo Morstoel has been packed in ice in a Nederland shed. Bredo, affectionately known to locals as “grandpa” was born, lived and died in Norway. Hoping for the day when cryonics could bring the now 114-year-old back to life, his family in Nederland had his body shipped to Colorado. There, they kept him deeply-chilled.

Well, eventually the family in Nederland got deported leaving poor grandpa behind. National news crews descended on the unique mountain town, the government said poor grandpa had to be buried or cremated. Locals became involved in a debate about “the rights of the temporarily dead” and, well, Nederland still has a corpse packed in dry ice and a reason to party every March.

Since my wife, Kathy, spent most of her school years in Nederland, we’ve followed the events of grandpa and Frozen Dead Guy Days. Last weekend we attended for the first, but probably not the last, time.

We got there early enough Friday for Kathy to make a few runs on nearby Lake Eldora’s ski slopes, while I walked the few streets, had a few brews, some great barbecue and watched the town change.

By dark traffic on the streets and sidewalk had more than doubled since noon. Many came in costumes with a comical macabre theme, plus the amazing assortment of, well, “unique” characters such a weird event seems to attract.

The event got its official start that evening with the annual Blue Ball, where bands played, people danced, and beer flowed while an unofficial costumed king and queen of the event were named.

The coffin race is one of the event's biggest attractions.

The coffin race is one of the event’s biggest attractions.

Over the next two days was a parade that may have more participants than spectators, including those planning on participating in events…and oh, are there some events for those who love having fun.

The Costume Polar Plunge had people paying $20 to take a dressed up dip into a hole in the ice of a pond in a downtown park. An hour or so later six-person pallbearer teams, often in theme costumes, carried a living “corpse” in designer coffins around an obstacle course.

Meanwhile, on the main drag people were bowling with frozen turkeys to knock down the pins. There was also a frozen t-shirt contest, a brain-freeze contest for those downing slushy drinks, a frozen salmon toss and a snowy beach volleyball tournament.

Frozen Dead Guy Days is obviously a big deal to Nederland businesses, giving them a serious shot of income before the quieter time between winter ski and summer tourist seasons. Much of the proceeds also go to local public service groups, like the fire department.

We certainly didn’t see it all, nor did we hear all the assorted live music from about 20 bands. But one thing we also didn’t see were any fights or even any serious arguments.

Done up specially for the event? It's never easy to tell in the quirky town of Nederland.

Done up specially for the event? It’s never easy to tell in the quirky town of Nederland.

“Dude, bad place to stand, we can’t see,” at the Polar Plunge was about as hot as things got. (“Dude,” by the way, smiled and knelt down in the snow.)

Meanwhile, up in a shed, grandpa Bredo rests at about 100 or so degrees below zero, waiting for the day when science can bring him back to life.

Imagine the celebration if in some decade to come he is able to lead the parade for the event that’s held annually in his honor?

Until then, every March more and more people will gather at a small, quirky mountain town to celebrate the death of a man they never met, by getting as much as they can out of life for at least one weekend.

YOU CAN CLICK HERE TO SEE A PHOTO GALLERY OF FROZEN DEAD GUY DAYS.

 

 

 

Casts and Blasts about feral hog eradication

A few more points of interest to go along with Sunday’s Outdoors page story on how Kansas-based biologists are taking their war against feral swine into parts of northern Oklahoma.

YOU CAN CLICK HERE TO READ THE ENTIRE STORY, AND ACCESS THE PHOTO GALLERY.

– Sport hunting for feral hogs has proven to be one of the least effect methods for reducing the population. Such hunting pressure scatters populations and often makes the pigs become nocturnal. Of the 385 feral hogs eradicated at Fort Riley, only 15 were shot by sport hunters, despite several years of hunting.

– -The population of feral hogs in the U.S. is estimated to be at least 5 million animals, of which Texas has about 2.6 million.

– Kansas biologists have seen feral sows with up to about 12 piglets, and most all litters have had at least six piglets. Like domestic swine, feral sows can have two litters per year.

– Within about three generations, domestic pigs turned feral take on the looks of wild swine with smaller hams, bigger shoulders, longer and stronger snouts, longer tusks…

– Some herds of feral pigs date back to the 1500s, when Spanish explorers brought herds of domestic swine for a food source as they explored what’s now the southern U.S.

– The average Kansas adult feral pig weighs about 100 pounds. Some have been documented close to 500 pounds.

– Declines in many kinds of wildlife have been documented when feral hogs invade an area, destroying habitat, competing for food and, at times, eating the eggs of endangered species.

– Biologists  usually suspect illegal releases by humans when a population suddenly appears with several animals, including sows. Most natural colonization by feral hogs is first done by boars.

– Feral hog control biologists annually kill about 20,000 wild pigs in Texas. Some aerial gunning projects have killed up to about 400 in a single day.

– Texas studies indicate each feral pig may be doing about $200 damage to the state’s agricultural practices annually.

– Shotguns with magazines large enough to hold eight to ten rounds, loaded with 00 buckshot are the preferred weapon when shooting from a helicopter. All shooting is done by specially-trained government personnel.

– Dogs have contracted illnesses and died from contacting feral hogs. Some hunters have gotten severely ill from diseases after such contact, and human deaths could be possible.

– In many states, domestic swine have developed diseases when feral hogs come into their area. A wide-spread outbreak of some diseases carried by feral pigs could cause millions of dollars in damages to the domestic pork industry.

– More than 650 Kansas landowners have given U.S.D.A. eradication crews access to more than 1 million acres to eliminate feral swine. The compliance rate of more than 99 -percent is probably the highest in the nation.

– U.S.D.A. biologists in Kansas use some modern tools to help with their war on feral swine. They have used night vision equipment to look for nocturnal herds. Recently, they’ve used cameras in traps that contact the biologist when something is within the trap area, and shows the biologists how many hogs are in the enclosure. The biologist can then push a button on his phone and the gate closes.

Source – Curran Salter, Mike Bodenchuk and Tom Berding