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Arkansas Forest Resource Center to Survey Landowners About Feral Hogs

Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission - Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Arkansas Forest Resources Center (AFRC) launched a survey earlier this month to measure the scope of damage caused by feral hogs in Arkansas and landowner’s perceptions and experiences with the animals. The survey, the first of its kind in the state, will focus on measuring the economic impact of feral hogs. The University of Arkansas at Little Rock Survey Research Center will contact landowners by telephone and ask them to participate in a 10-minute survey.

Feral swine (also known as feral hogs) are a non-native, invasive species that present a significant risk to human health, animal health, and agriculture in Arkansas. They are a highly adaptable, fast-reproducing species.

A survey of row crop farmers in Arkansas by the National Wildlife Research Center indicated almost a $20 million loss in crop production in 2014.

“This figure is just the tip of the iceberg,” according to Kenny Wallen, assistant professor with the AFRC, part of the University of Arkansas (UA) System Division of Agriculture with its headquarters at the University of Arkansas at Monticello. “Arkansans spend money to repair pastures, fences, and roads, and many studies do not account for losses caused by feral hog activity like soil erosion, loss of wildlife, or the cost of equipment to trap, manage, or hunt feral hogs.”

The multi-organization Arkansas Feral Hog Eradication Task Force has been active for over a year and brings together state and federal agencies and non-government organizations to address the issue. The task force was created by Act 1010 of the Arkansas Legislature during the 2017 general session and was directed to create a plan for the eradication of feral hogs in Arkansas.

Becky McPeake, extension wildlife specialist for the UA System Division of Agriculture, is a member of the task force and also a professor with the AFRC.

“The task force recognizes that feral hogs are a big issue for landowners in the state, and appreciates the Arkansas Forest Resources Center taking the lead in conducting a survey about economic losses that Arkansans are experiencing from feral hogs,” McPeake said. “Although feral hogs may seem like an ideal game species, many hunters change their minds once they see the destruction feral hogs cause to wildlife habitat. Hunters report that more hogs on their hunting lease has resulted in fewer deer, which some recent studies are confirming.”

According to Wallen, this survey is the first of many. “The Arkansas Forest Resources Center is dedicated to understanding the effects feral hogs have on landowners and sharing our research with the public and others, like the Arkansas Feral Hog Eradication Task Force.”

“When you see UALR on your caller ID in the next few weeks, please answer, we appreciate your help,” Wallen said.

The Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission is a division of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, which is a member of the Arkansas Feral Hog Eradication Task Force.

Learn more about managing feral hogs at www.uaex.edu/environment-nature/wildlife/feral-hogs.aspx or contact your county extension office.

To learn more about the Arkansas Feral Hog Eradication Task Force, see www.agriculture.arkansas.gov/feral-hog-eradication-task-force.

The AFRC, a UA System Center of Excellence, and the School of Forestry and Natural Resources bring together interdisciplinary expertise through a partnership between the UA System Division of Agriculture and UA Monticello. The Center and School are headquartered at the UA Monticello campus, but their programs range statewide.

The UA System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the UA System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.

Photos:

Thumbnail (main page) - Feral hog, Creative Commons 20130507-APHIS-LP-0015 by Laurie Paulik used under CC BY/reduced size

Top left - Feral hogs, Creative Commons 20130507-APHIS-UNK-0012 by NASA used under CC BY/reduced size



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