Feral Hog Battle Heats Up

Everybody hates wild, feral hogs and thinks they ought to be reduced in number if not eradicated. They tear up crops and pollute streams. But there is a major battle going on between hog hunters and the TWRA on how best to do it. There have been three acrimonious meetings of late since TWRA changed the regulations on hunting the beasts.

Two meetings at Cumberland Mountain State Park featured hundreds of hunters giving TWRA an earful. Then the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission, which governs the TWRA, had a two-day meeting in Kingsport and about a hundred hunters showed up to express their displeasure.

The TWRA outlawed hunting the hogs with hounds, which hunters argue are essential to find the wily beasts. They also stopped hunting them in wildlife areas and instead hired people to do the shooting. The commission told the hunters to come up with a plan and they would consider their proposal.

The commission doesn't need to have hundreds of hunters mad at them at this point. The commission is in "wind down" this year. The governing commission of TWRA was not reauthorized last session of the Legislature. That means they are in a one year countdown and if not reauthorized next session the commission would be abolished. The TWRA would then go under a commissioner appointed by the governor, like other state departments. Most observers think legislators were just sending a message to TWRA that they had gotten too independent and not listening to constituents—and legislators. The hog hunters are contacting other hunting groups around the state to form an alliance.

Hundreds of angry hunters, whose hunting licenses fund TWRA, are not a good thing for the commission at this point. The bill to reauthorize them is in a subcommittee and if it gets bottled up next session the commission is abolished.