Feral swine hunting has few limitations in Georgia
**Editor's Note - State regulations cited in this article are from 2019. Check updated regulations at www.georgiawildlife.com
Feral swine are not your average pigs- the invasive species are rapidly permeating parts of Georgia’s Lake Country and pose a unique opportunity for hunters and trappers.
According to Department of Natural Resources Officer Cpl. Robert Stillwell, feral hogs are not indigenous to Georgia; rather, they were introduced to the state. Stillwell, who has worked for the DNR for 18 years, 13 of which he has spent serving in Blakely, Twiggs, Pulaski, Houston, Jones, Wilkinson, Baldwin and Putnam counties, is an avid hog hunter. “There are very little regulations on them,” he says.
In fact, in the State of Georgia, feral hogs can be hunted year-round, and there is no limit on how many a hunter kills. Similarly, coyotes, beavers, armadillos, groundhogs, starlings, pigeons and English Sparrows all have no kill limits or closed seasons.
According to the DNR website, feral hogs can be hunted at night with a light and hunting over bait is allowed; hogs cannot be hunted from a vehicle. The website also says that any legal weapons are allowed when hunting feral hogs on private land.
However, the website lists specific guidelines for hunting hogs in wildlife management areas, like Cedar Creek and B.F. Grant. According to the website, “feral hogs may be taken during any small or big game season with the appropriate lawful weapons. Hunter orange is required and no night hunting or baiting is allowed.”
The website also gives guidelines for hunting hogs in national forest areas outside of wildlife management areas. “Hogs may be taken with archery equipment during archery deer season, with deer weapons during firearms season, with turkey weapons during turkey season and with small game weapons during small game season. No night hunting or bating is allowed. Hunter orange is required during firearms and primitive weapons deer season,” the DNR website says.
Stillwell says he got interested in hunting hogs for a number of reasons. “One, they are fun to hunt; but more importantly, they do quite a bit of damage to local farmers, their crops, and it is just a little way to try to help them out,” he says.
Farmers and landowners from across Georgia’s Lake Country packed into the Greene County Ag Expo Arena on June 18 to participate in a Feral Hog Control Workshop presented by The Piedmont Soil and Water Conservation District. The workshop was hosted in partnership with the Georgia Association of Conservation Districts, UGA Extension and the Natural Resources Conservation Services and covered topics such as feral hog habitat, breeding and the importance of trapping for herd eradication.
During the workshop, Jasper County UGA Extension Officer Charlie Todd said feral hogs really only require food, water and space. Although wild boars are considered habitat generalists, Stillwell said they like swampy areas, and in Middle Georgia can often be found along the Ocmulgee River banks. When it comes to diet, feral hogs aren’t picky. They feast on crops, grasses, roots, mushrooms, invertebrates, amphibians and reptiles, mammals, birds and nests, as well as garbage, pet food, livestock and deer feeds.
The workshop also provided the landowners in Morgan, Greene, Taliaferro, Putnam, Hancock, Baldwin and Jones counties with information about valuable resources available for trapping wild boars. The Piedmont Conservation District now participates in the Georgia Association of Conservation District’s Feral Swine District Initiative, through which they have obtained feral swine control equipment.
During the workshop, Hog Control Custodian Kris Pope gave a demonstration on how the trapping equipment works. Landowners learned how they could gain access to the equipment. “It’s not a matter of how many pigs you remove; it’s a matter of how many you left behind,” Todd said during the workshop.
Stillwell says that since hogs are considered an invasive species and not considered a game animal, it is legal to trap them and then hunt over the traps. It is, however, against state law to transport live wild boars without a permit from the Department of Agriculture.
Todd said that trapping feral hogs is the most effective way of eradicating the destructive species. However, the year-round season and no kill limits provide a unique opportunity for hog hunters across Georgia’s Lake Country and the state.
- - -
Article by Leila Scoggins, printed in the 2019-2020 Outdoors magazine, published by Smith Communications, Inc.