The bill outlines penalties for anyone knowingly releasing feral hogs into the wild
By Diego Flammini
A newly signed piece of legislation in Missouri will penalize people who purposely contribute to the state’s feral hog situation.
Gov. Mike Parson signed HB 369 on July 15.
The bill indicates any person who “knowingly releases any swine to live in a wild or feral state may be sentenced to pay a fine of up to $2,000.”
An individual who is found guilty of subsequent offences within 10 years could be found guilty of a class E felony. In Missouri, a class E felony comes with prison sentences of up to four years.
Feral hogs cause billions of dollars of damage each year.
Passing this bill will deter people from contributing to that damage.
“Across the U.S., feral hogs cause as much as $1.5 billion in damage each year,” Garrett Hawkins, president of the Missouri Farm Bureau, said in a statement. “In southern Missouri, feral hogs root up crops and damage pastures to the point some lands can no longer be farmed. HB 369 increases punishment on bad actors transporting and releasing hogs and clarifies existing regulations.”
Missouri’s feral hog population appears to be on the rise.
Available data indicates the state had about 10,000 wild hogs in 2014, 20,000 in 2017 and 30,000 in 2018.
In total, feral swine have been reported in at least 35 states with an estimated total population of about 6,000,000 and counting.
Farmers have seen the damage these animals can do up close.
“The economic destruction taking place in my region from feral hogs impacts more than just farmers and ranchers,” Jeff Reed, region three vice president of the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, said in a statement. “It impacts rural economic development and small businesses who depend on the agricultural sector for their income.”