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Feral hogs have been ruining crops, parks and many other essential parts of the environment. These animals were originally brought to North America for livestock, but a great deal of them escaped enclosures, were released for hunting, or were abandoned. One female pig can begin reproducing at six months old and have an average of 12 piglets. Rapid reproduction allowed them to swiftly take over the continent. Pigs will eat virtually everything in their path, leaving only piles of dirt and dead plants. Their rampage has almost completely destroyed some endangered species, habitats and the Missouri countryside.

While hunting seems like a great way to get rid of large numbers of hogs at a time, it has actually been seen to actually increase the number of hogs in the area. Legal hog hunting results in a larger number of hunters, and some individuals illegally release more hogs to establish hunting opportunities, defeating the purpose entirely. Tennessee experienced only a reduction in hog population once they made hunting illegal.

Mark Twain National Forest is one of the largest areas affected by these hogs, and Sherri Schwenke, forest supervisor at Mark Twain, is pushing to get hunting banned. The legislation is currently in the works to ban hog hunting, which is truly the only way to solve the problem. Because the Mark Twain National Forest covers so much land, the only way to get total prevention of the problem is to work on it at the state level.

Riley Weber • Wentzville