Missouri: US Forest Service to Close Mark Twain National Forest to Swine Hunting

Contact: Kent Keene, Lower Midwestern States Coordinator

On December 7, the United States Forest Service (USFS) announced a decision to close feral swine hunting on the Mark Twain National Forest. Originally proposed as a complete closure, the USFS allowed the public an opportunity to weigh in on the proposed closure during a 60-day comment period. As a result of the more than 1,200 public comments received during this period, the USFS amended the closure to allow hunters possessing a valid deer or turkey license to opportunistically harvest feral swine during deer and turkey seasons.

This move by the USFS brings feral swine management on the 1.5 million-acre Mark Twain National Forest in-line with other public lands in Missouri, and is consistent with the goals of the Missouri Feral Hog Elimination Partnership – an interagency task force that includes the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). In 2016, the Missouri Department of Conservation closed feral swine hunting on lands owned or leased by the department. On these lands, biologists and trappers install traps that are designed to capture entire family groups, known as “sounders.” Current research suggests that whole sounder removal is the most effective tool currently available for feral swine eradication.

CSF strongly supports the use of hunting as the preferred population management tool for game species; however, we also recognize that there are situations involving non-game and invasive species, in which alternative management practices need to be explored. Given the estimated $1.5 billion in annual damage caused by feral swine, it is important for sportsmen, landowners, and wildlife managers to understand and collaborate to eradicate and prevent the expansion of feral swine populations where possible. For more information on resources for managing feral swine, click here.

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