Mark Twain National Forest is now closed to feral swine hunting, with one exception, announced the USDA’s Forest Service on Saturday.
The exception allows for licensed deer or turkey hunters with a valid state deer or turkey hunting permit to also kill feral swine. Hunters must be hunting deer or turkey in compliance with their permit, the Forest Service said in a release.
In the 1990s, the plan to use public recreational hunting as a way to manage (not eradicate) feral swine failed as populations expanded from two watersheds totaling approximately 59,000 acres in 1991 to 383 watersheds covering 9 million acres in 2016.
In 2016, some hunting prohibitions went into effect and the number of watersheds occupied by feral swine dropped to 337 totaling approximately 8 million acres, according to USDA’s Forest Service website.
Comments flood in
After a 60-day public comment period, the forest order aligns the Mark Twain National Forest, which covers about 50,000 acres of Texas County, Mo., with its partners and neighbors in the statewide effort to eliminate feral swine from Missouri.
“We appreciate the public’s involvement and interest in their public lands. The comments we received helped us determine the need to modify the closure order,” said Mark Twain Deputy Forest Supervisor Tony Crump in the release. “As a land management agency, we take input seriously so we can most effectively manage public lands for the good of the resources, our partners, and the American people.”
The Forest Service received and reviewed more than 1,200 comments during the 60-day comment period the release said. Key reasons why the order is vital to the elimination of feral swine in Missouri include:
1. Feral swine populations disrupt and damage wilderness areas.
2. Feral swine threaten natural resources and adjacent private landowners.
3. Feral swine are disease vectors and serve as a threat to domestic livestock and wildlife.
Feral swine are responsible for more than $1.5 billion in damage and control costs in the U.S., including $800 million due to direct damage to agriculture. Learn more about USDA efforts.
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