Arkansas considers postponing restriction on killing feral hogs

SPRINGDALE – Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Director Jeff Crow proposed a temporary reversal of regulations prohibiting the take of feral hogs on Commission-owned property at today’s meeting of the AGFC. If the regulation change passes, hunters will be allowed to take feral hogs during open bear, deer or elk firearms seasons with weapons legal for those seasons. National wildlife refuges in Arkansas also will adjust their feral hog regulations to meet those of the AGFC.

The proposal stems from public comments after the regulation was passed in May. Confusion over the reasoning behind the regulation was a primary concern.

“The idea that we want to eliminate hogs on a WMA but won’t allow the public to shoot one if they see it does seem counterintuitive,” Crow said during committee meetings. “The idea was to eliminate the incentive for future illegal releases of hogs and to cut down on disturbance that can spook the hogs and make them much harder to trap.”

The AGFC has begun an aggressive hog trapping campaign in the last few years, catching whole sounders in one swoop instead of taking single hogs here and there.

“This new method eliminates many more hogs without scattering the rest of the sounder,” Crow said. “I still firmly believe that the restriction on taking hogs on WMAs is a good one, and that recreational pursuit of hogs is not the answer to the problem, but we need to give the public and our sister conservation agencies more time to review and understand this effort.”

Crow says the restriction to eliminate killing hogs on all AGFC-owned WMAs will be presented again in 2019.

In other business, the Commission:

Recognized Kelly Mulvihill from the Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center for the facilities’ recent award of Best Family Outing from the Southwest Times Record.
Authorized the transfer of $520,566.67 collected through fines in Fiscal Year 2016 to the Arkansas Department of Rural Services to distribute for conservation education grants in the counties where the fines were collected.
Authorized Director Crow to execute an amendment to the existing property easement on Lake Bentonville to accommodate an airport runway and commercial development on a small portion of the lakeshore.
Authorized Director Crow to finalize and execute a cooperative agreement between the AGFC and Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation to coordinate a fundraising campaign that will help fuel funding for the new conservation education center in Northwest Arkansas.
Heard the first reading of proposed changes concerning trout fishing regulations on the Greers Ferry Tailwater.
Heard a presentation on the AGFC’s statewide habitat program from Martin Blaney, AGFC habitat program coordinator.
Formally elected all new wildlife officers and AGFC employees hired since last October.
Approved the removal of obsolete, damaged and unusable inventory with an original value of $19,332 and a current net book value of $0.