County balks at endorsing plan to open federal, state lands to hunters of feral hogs

Buck Collier
Special Correspondent to The Republican

HERMANN — Gasconade County administrators are casting a skeptical eye toward a plan aimed at opening federal and state lands to hunters of feral hogs — a growing problem in Mid-Missouri and elsewhere.

Associate Commissioner Jerry Lairmore Thursday morning said he is concerned about a proposal being put forth by some county commissioners in the South-Central Missouri Region, which includes Gasconade County, that would set aside a ban on hunting the wild hogs on federal and state properties.

Lairmore. R-Owensville, said some hunters are advocating the opening of the federal and state lands.

The commissioner said he understands why the effort is being made, noting that wild hogs can severely damage property. 

“The devastation these things do to the ground is terrible,” he said during Thursday morning’s County Commission session. However, his opposition to the proposed opening stems from the effect of hunters going onto the federal and state lands and trying to take the hogs.

As he explained, hunters will go into a baited area and take only a few of a herd of several gathered in the area, dispersing the rest of the hogs throughout the area and onto adjacent private lands, where they can cause extensive damage. Rather, he said, he prefers conservation agency efforts being made to eradicate an entire herd that has gathered in a baited area.  Those efforts usually take place during winter months and involve personnel on the ground and in the air spotting the animals and monitoring their movement during the eradication project.

The air-and-ground effort is able to keep the members of the herd contained within the target areas, Lairmore said, unlike the efforts of individual hunters who go into the baited areas. “These hogs don’t stay on federal and state property,” he said.

County Clerk Lesa Lietzow noted that of the several counties within the South-Central Region, Gasconade and Crawford are the only ones that have not endorsed the proposal to open the federal and state lands. Advocates are making a concerted effort to obtain regionwide support, she said. “We just got a call again this week” asking if the County Commission is going to take a vote on the proposal.

Lairmore concedes there is a growing problem with feral hogs. “There are hundreds” in Gasconade County, he said. “There are a lot more than you can imagine.” he added. The commissioner said that before he takes action on the proposal he would like to know more about the situation. He said he would try to arrange a presentation at a commission meeting by those advocating the move.