The Arkansas Forest Resources Center on Thursday launched a survey, the first of its kind in the state, to measure the scope of damage caused by feral hogs in Arkansas and landowner’s perceptions and experiences with the animals.

A main focus of the survey is to measure the economic impact feral hogs. Landowners will be contacted by telephone and asked to participate in the 10-minute survey.

Feral hogs are a highly adaptable, fast-reproducing species. They cause damage to agriculture and wildlife habitat, can contribute to water quality issues, and spread disease.

Tip of the iceberg
A survey of row crop farmers in Arkansas by the National Wildlife Research Center indicated almost a $20 million loss in crop production in 2014.

“This figure is just the tip of the iceberg,” according to Kenny Wallen, assistant professor with the Arkansas Forest Resources Center, part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture with its headquarters at the University of Arkansas at Monticello. “Arkansans spend money to repair pastures, fences, and roads, and many studies do not account for losses caused by feral hog activity like soil erosion, loss of wildlife, or the cost of equipment to trap, manage, or hunt feral hogs.”

The multi-organization Arkansas Feral Hog Eradication Task Force has been active for over a year in bringing together state and federal agencies and non-government organizations to address the issue. The task force was created by Act 1010 of the Arkansas Legislature during the 2017 general session and was directed to create a plan for the eradication of feral hogs in Arkansas.

Becky McPeake, extension wildlife specialist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, is a member of the task force and also a professor with the Arkansas Forest Resources Center.

“The task force recognizes that feral hogs are a big issue for landowners in the state, and appreciates the Arkansas Forest Resources Center taking the lead in conducting a survey about economic losses that Arkansans are experiencing from feral hogs,” McPeake said.

Positive reception to the survey
“We have been piloting the survey and it has gone well, with landowners eager and excited to talk about feral hog activity,” said Cindy Bennett, director of the Survey Research Center at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock.

“Although feral hogs may seem like an ideal game species, many hunters change their minds once they see the destruction feral hogs cause to wildlife habitat. Hunters report that more hogs on their hunting lease has resulted in fewer deer, which some recent studies are confirming,” McPeake said.

“This survey is the first of many” according to Wallen. “The Arkansas Forest Resources Center is dedicated to understanding the effects feral hogs have on landowners and sharing our research with the public and others, like the Arkansas Feral Hog Eradication Task Force.”

“When you see UALR on your caller ID in the next few weeks, please answer, we appreciate your help,” Wallen said.

Learn more about managing feral hogs at…/wildlife/feral-hogs.aspx or contact your county extension office.