SPRINGFIELD– The Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the Illinois Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are enlisting the help of Illinois hunters in efforts to track feral swine and assist in slowing the population and expanding range of the invasive animals in the state.
Feral swine – often referred to as feral hogs and wild pigs – are defined as free-ranging animals that are not under domestic livestock confinement. They are an invasive species competing with native wildlife for food resources and damaging soil through their rooting and feeding activities, increasing soil erosion and damaging crops, plants and water quality. Feral swine also are known to carry at least 30 diseases that pose serious implications for people, pets, wildlife and livestock.
“We are encouraging Illinois hunters – especially the thousands of Illinois firearm deer hunters who will be in the field in coming weeks – to be on the lookout for feral swine and report any sightings to us,” said Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Director Marc Miller. “The dangers of disease, costly damage to the land, and negative impacts to wildlife from the further spread of feral swine in Illinois are significant.”
Hunters, landowners, and others who see feral swine in Illinois are asked to report the sightings to the IDNR Division of Wildlife Resources at 217/785-2511. Hunters in the field who observe feral swine and possess a valid Illinois FOID card can – with the permission of the landowner – legally shoot the wild hogs.
“Feral swine pose a significant threat to the Illinois domestic swine industry as the wild hogs are very mobile and can spread a variety of viral and bacterial diseases, as well as dozens of parasites that can affect domestic pigs and other livestock, wildlife, people and their pets,” said Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) Acting Director Jim Larkin. “Reports of feral swine from hunters and landowners can be vitally important in helping Illinois control this major nuisance species.”
Wildlife impacts of feral swine in Illinois include predation on ground nesting birds, amphibians, reptiles and other wildlife. Rooting activities by the wild pigs cause significant erosion, damaging habitat and reducing water quality. Economic losses nationally resulting from feral swine are estimated at more than $1 billion annually.
• For Illinois sightings of feral swine: Call the IDNR Division of Wildlife Resources at 217/785-2511
• For more information on the impacts of feral swine, check the USDA website at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/wildlife_damage/feral_swine/