Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Feral Hogs and Wakarusa Valley

February 28, 2010
IMG_5621

A helicopter flew over the Wakarusa valley today with a USDA sharpshooter on board.  KS Wildlife & Parks were also involved.   When Dan checked, they had not found any animals but they were up about 30 minutes more.  Note: It was later confirmed by Kansas Wildlife and Parks that no feral hogs were found.

January, 2008
Feral hogs once again reared their ugly heads in the upper Wildlife and Parks region of Clinton Lake. Only this time, USDA Animal Control Specialist, Chad Richardson and his staff were there.

First spotted in 2002, the wild pigs have been a continuing problem to private landowners and farmers leasing farmland in the Wildlife and Parks hunting area. I personally became concerned when I spotted a group walking across our pasture directly behind our home, an area where our grandchildren play.

The Lawrence Journal World reported the USDA helicopter flight on March 17, 2006. In June, 2006 the Kansas Legislature passed a bill banning public hunting of feral hogs. Finally, in a story on January 25, 2007, George Teagarden, Kansas Livestock Commission announced they would fly again in the spring of 2007 reported here. Although the problem continued to receive attention, I did not feel there was a united effort against the growing population. We continued to see them, often a sow leading a group of babies.

The USDA, Kansas Livestock Commission and Kansas Wildlife and Parks handling of the feral hog problem in our valley has received criticism. I, personally, felt the helicopter could not be completely effective over our valley because of the foliage. Others felt the ban on hunting did not make sense. Meanwhile, the farmers continued to lose crops. Two were hit on the road with damage to vehicles. It seemed the problem had no practical solution.

It all changed December of 2007. It was the Holidays, but Chad Richardson was on the job. He paid us a visit and indicated he was ready to work on the hog population.

Thanks to Richardson’s long hours and local cooperation, a coordinated program of trapping began. The ban on hunting kept the hogs localized in the valley. As a result, 60 hogs were caught in live traps the months of December and January. The helicopter flew again on February 4, 2008 with 23 taken at that time.

Although there may be feral hogs left in the valley, I applaud Richardson for his efforts in removing 83 of them. I, for one, will feel safer walking down the valley road this spring.

November 15, 2007
Dan and I were sitting at the table talking about our day when Dan looked beyond me down in the valley. There, just beyond our fence line, were three adults and six baby feral hogs. (They cannot be shot on government property).

I could let this ruin my day. However, there is word around the valley that the Kansas Wildlife and Parks and the USDA are working on the problem. I will admit the helicopter flyover last spring was productive. However, these few directly behind our house are the third group we have either seen or heard about within the last two weeks. Fall harvest of the row crops have them out foraging in the fields.

I will put up a picture for a few hours. It is such poor quality that I will probably take it off. It gives an indication of the size of the animals.



March 19, 2007
Just a short post to say the air backup did arrive. The valley was blocked all day at each entrance by official trucks. I was working, but had to detour home around noon because I had a tire that was quickly going flat. Thankfully, Dan was here to change it as well as fill me in on the action.

They had a pretty good idea where the hogs were hanging out. Dan said they made one pass, all of sudden the helicopter started circling and it sounded like a war zone so they sighted the enemy. Dan also thought he heard them on the south side of the river. Wish we had one of those new slick digital video cameras. Our old 1985 model didn't do it justice.

We have no word on how many they got. Basically, we don't know much of anything, I guess. We will see if the newspapers even mention it.



March 18, 2007
Another week beginning--hope those rumblings I hear result in a little precip. The helicopter is coming in tomorrow and Tuesday to shoot hogs. Cloudy, rainy weather might be good with less glare for the sharpshooter. And, on the mail route, I see more animal movement with cloud cover. From what we have been told, I think this time the Wildlife and Parks, FDA, etc. etc. have done some preplanning. Hopefully, on Wednesday of this week I will report good news.

January 28, 2007

The legislature is in session and that means feral hogs are in the news again. The Lawrence Journal World began the January 25, 2007, article by saying, "Nearly a year after gunmen in helicopters shot and killed dozens of feral swine in Douglas County and other areas of the state feral hogs are still causing headaches for rural landowners." This is no surprise as numerous groups of hogs were seen, many within months of the helicopter hunt here in the Wakarusa Valley last March where a mere 23 were killed.

The article goes on to quote George Teagarden, Kansas Livestock Commissioner, "we had a bigger problem than we thought."

Three interesting points were made. One, a USDA helicopter and gunmen will be used again this spring. Two, The Kansas Legislature approved $125,000 appropriation for the program last year. Finally, that they have limited money. My question is, if there is limited money, why are the people in charge of this operation using the most expensive method there is to deal with it. People in the know tell us that using the helicopter was very successful at Fort Riley. I am sure it was as there is wide open Flint Hill spaces. However, that is not the terrain in the Wakarusa Valley, where large walk-in traps would seem more feasible.

Chad Richardson, USDA wildlife biologist, stated there are probably about 100 hogs in the Wakarusa Valley. As residents of the area, I believe there are are far more than 100 hogs. As recent as this month, two different people have witnessed a group totaling over 50 crossing the road on the wildlife and parks land.

Once again, all the government agencies are putting their expertise together to fix this problem. The people who live in the middle are never asked for input. If a landowners coalition were put together in this valley, three times the number of feral hogs would be killed than with the helicopter in the air trying to look under foliage and undergrowth. There needs to be an ongoing program, not a once a year helicopter ride that gets the big ones but misses the hidden babies.

Click here to read all my posts on this issue.

Two pictures taken of the valley from our ultralight








Google Earth--Wakarusa river runs into Clinton Lake






November 16, 2006

Well, actually, they were never gone. It's been a while since I have written about this controversial subject. There is background here.

The summer did not have much noticeable hog activity as there is plenty of food and cover. As the winter approaches, the cover freezes down and again there is evidence. Last week we had a hog parade of 23 across the back side of our property. It appears the Dirty Dozen ( twelve hogs often spotted together last winter) now have grand babies. That was about the size range of the parade. Neighbors have mentioned sightings also. Dan has spent time in a deer stand and says he hears snorting in the wooded areas.

The reason given for the ban on hunting is it drives the population out of the valley and into the surrounding areas. The hogs have been meandering around the valley in the middle of deer and duck season. Some mornings it sounds like WWIII down in the Wildlife and Parks hunting areas and duck marshes. How DO those hogs know all those gun shots are not directed toward them?

July 27, 2006
One-fourth inch is all the gauge recorded, but it seems as if it rained more. We went for a ride after supper. It was a beautiful evening.

First, we checked out the wild plums. This must be a good year for fruit, as it seems every tree is loaded and the plums are no exception. The Kansas Wildlife and Parks planted hundreds of plum trees in strips in the hunting areas, for animals only. However, the animals ate those plums and “planted” them all over the valley. This would be the year for anyone wanting to make plum jelly—or plum wine.

Next, we checked the cornfield for sign of feral hogs. The corn is ripe and it was obvious the pigs are having a feast. There was evidence of their presence, stocks down and cobs on the ground. The farmer who leases the land was out checking his crops. It must be frustrating to see the damage.

On the way home, we decided to head south on the river road. It was busy down by the river. Probably the Catfish were biting with the cooler temperature after the rain. (Just saying that brings to mind the song Black Water by the Doobie Brothers). We didn’t walk on down to the river as it was starting to get dark, a sign the days are getting shorter already.

We ran in to a car with three Leavenworth (city not jail) hog hunters on the way out on the river road. They informed us TWO helicopters shot TWELVE pigs and someone in the area trapped THIRTY SEVEN. Remember the old game called gossip? We didn’t set them straight—it made too good of a story.

TGIF



June 22, 2006
My kitchen window overlooks the valley at a distance and our wildflower path and bird feeders closer. Just now I was looking out that window while drinking a glass of ice water and eating a few of my end of the workday weakness, Goldfish.

I observed the following: Red Winged Blackbird, Eastern Phoebe, Yellow Finch, Tree Sparrow (I think), one Ruby-throated Hummingbird on the clothesline & one at the feeder, the bully Blue Jay, and a plethora of Barn Swallows. There were several Carpenter Bees that we are trying to get rid of, our Boxers (one ours and one we are keeping for the kids), and assorted hornets etc. Later on tonight, as we do most every night, we will probably see Meadowlarks, Bluebirds, Vultures circling on the thermo above the trees, a Blue Heron standing in the pond, and a few deer wandering around eating the new grass shoots. We will also see that crazy Red-headed Woodpecker that sneaks up the porch railing to grab some sunflower seeds. If I am lucky, I will see the pair of quail and the bunny who doesn’t seem to be the least bit afraid of the two dogs and barn cats. Overall, it is just another busy day behind our house. We sometimes look at all of it without seeing. It is easy to do because it is the routine of our small bit of the valley.

This morning there was a totally different sight that brought me out of my early morning, first cup of coffee stupor. Dan was at the front door letting the dogs out so I have no one to verify what I saw. I could not get to my camera fast enough so no picture backup. What did I see?

Directly behind our house, at 6:00 am, there were four medium sized feral hogs!!!
Don’t know the background? Click here: Feral Hogs and Wakarusa Valley.

Unbelieveable.


May 10 2006

I switched on the Topeka news a few minutes ago. They were reporting on the Kansas Legislature and the fact that they had finally passed a school funding bill.

The piece featured an interview with Governor Kathleen Sebelius and she stated, in part, "....the Kansas legislature found time to vote on swine legislation but not Kansas kids." Maybe it wasn't exactly word for word but close.

I have absolutely no idea why a legislative body would be spending the taxpayers time on a feral hog bill that basically says it is illegal to hunt or release feral hogs. George Teagarden, head of the Kansas Livestock Commission was the spokesman for the bill. For some reason, wild hogs are livestock, but deer, wild turkey, fish, etc are not and these animals are regulated by the Kansas Wildlife and Parks. We don't need a law from the legislature to regulate these animals. Yes, I know the farmers are fearful of the diseases the feral hogs might carry, but perhaps they should also be concerned about the form of chronic wasting disease the deer have in Colorado and has been found in western Kansas. I personally would rather eat a feral hog than a deer from western Kansas

Well, Mr. Teagarden, the pigs are in your pen now, where you want them, what is your plan?



Thursday, May 4, 2006

Dan stopped by the Kansas Wildlife & Parks office in Topeka today. He brought home a copy of "HB No. 2899 Feral swine" passed by the the KS House & Senate and probably by now has been signed by the Governor into law. Yes, the pigs actually have their own law now.

The new law prohibits the live importation of feral swine into the state and they can no longer be hunted for sport.

It will be interesting to see how the multiple agencies involved now handle the still growing feral hog problem in our valley.



March 18, 2006

Things have settled down over the valley now that the helicopter and sharp shooter have finished their task. Unfortunately, there are still plenty of feral hogs around, but I guess it wasn't the intent of the aerial assault to eradicate them but rather to get tissue samples to check for disease. At least that is what they said after the fact.

Yesterday's Lawrence Journal World had an article on the problem. It names all the parties involved: Kansas Wildlife & Parks, United States Department of Agriculture, Kansas Livestock Commission and Kansas Animal Health Department. Who is the "big gun" in this effort? I doubt it was the person in the helicopter. If the "higher ups" would step back and let the employees who work this area take over, the problem could be contained. They know the area, the people who live here and hence where the pigs are located. They are well-liked and reliable.
One official named in the article said he, "doubts all the hogs that were hanging out at Clinton were killed, but any that escaped probably have scattered to other areas. The population was dispersing anyway because of local hunting." This statement definitely showed lack of knowledge of the local pig population. I am not a hog expert by any means, but I have to wonder if they are dispersing to other areas because they are territorial which leads to expansion.

Also, this valley is not Oklahoma or Texas. There are trees, tall grasses and other hiding areas. One local resident did not give permission for the pigs to be hunted on his ground and the focus was on him as if all the pigs in the valley ran over to his land to escape. I doubt if those pigs are that smart.

Dan had a plan two years ago. It was well thought out and workable. Basically, it was just too logical.


March 12, 2006

Friday the USDA brought in a helicopter and sharp shooter to kill pigs in the valley. The rumor is that it cost was in the neighborhood of $600 an hour which I feel is conservative with the cost of flying a helicopter. The assault was no secret as the helicopter and people involved were on the local television stations Friday night.

Now I am hearing only the people in charge can legally deal with the feral hogs. No hunting or trapping. My question is, do they want to get rid of these rogue animals or do they just like the power of saying who can and who can't.

The people who actually live in this valley know where they are and they could, if given permission, probably in one day trap more than the mere 25 shot by the expensive helicopter gunner. The group in the picture I posted behind our house had nearly 25 pigs. I refuse to take that picture off my site as I took it myself and those pigs were on our property.

Last Friday, the day of the big air assault, there was a rumor that some wildlife and parks deputy shot himself in the foot. It turned out to be false, but as far as I am concerned, that is exactly what the Kansas and Government officials are doing concerning this feral hog population in our valley.

July 14, 2005

Skye hit the jackpot
As those of you who follow my journal know, we have feral hogs in our valley. About six months ago, a friend gave us a half to smoke. It was wrapped in plastic and stored in our freezer. Last weekend, we decided to defrost the hog and fire up the smoker. We were a bit skeptical because of the length of freezer time. However, Dan sat a clean muck bucket filled with water in the bathtub and dropped in the 30 pound frozen pig to thaw. Later I went in to use the bathroom and was taken back by a hairy leg and hoof sticking out of the top of the bucket. I am not sure why this part of the pig was left in tact, but Skye, our boxer, found it irresistible. She spent considerable time sniffing and inspecting.

Around noon, we decided to run a couple of quick errands. The pig was still thawing in the muck bucket in the bathtub. In our hurry to leave, we forgot to close the door that blocks Skye from the house. As usual, the errands took longer than expected. When we finally returned, I immediately noticed a watery/bloody mess on the floor. Skye had managed to pull the half-thawed meat out of the bathtub through the dining room and kitchen to the basement stairs. I’m sure she meant to pull it down the stairs, out the doggie doors and bury it!

Thank goodness, there was tile on all floors affected. It took considerable time scrubbing and disinfecting. We will wait until next time to try smoked hog.


June 2, 2005

There’s been an accident

the deputy said when he knocked on my door around 9:30 Tuesday, May 31st. I feared those words when our kids were not home when expected. I feared those words when Dan’s dad at age 80 plus was still farming with large machinery. But, I have probably feared those words most about Dan because his work involves dangerous power tools. My fears came true, but it wasn’t the tools.

Dan often takes our quad ATV down to the Federal land near us to look for wildlife or to the pond to feed fish. Tuesday evening he was looking for a group of feral hogs our neighbors had seen earlier. On the way home, while reaching for something on the ATV, he inadvertently pulled the handlebars to one side and was thrown on the gravel road about a quarter of a mile from our driveway. We live off the road, so I did not hear the sirens or see the lights. The dreaded knock was my first knowledge of the wreck.

He was taken by ambulance to Topeka. There was great concern about a closed head injury which was confirmed with a very small amount of bleeding. There was obviously open head injury with two large cuts on the front and side. He also had a problem with his shoulder which turned out to be a broken collar bone and cracked rib. The emergency room was an anxious time with CAT scans, x rays and stitches. By 4:30 he was in a hospital room and resting as comfortable as possible without strong pain meds due to the head injury.

Yesterday, he was visited by a neurosurgeon, orthopedic surgeon, and his own doctor. All assured me he was going to live and be as good as new, “in a month of Sundays” as the orthopedic doc said.

We are home today and he is finally able to rest more comfortably. Our Colorado family came in late last night and our Salina family will come tomorrow. The one project we wanted to complete this spring was to finish painting our house. That will happen this weekend, thanks to our kids and some friends.

Dan has been self employed for almost 35 years and has never had to miss work because of a serious illness or injury. That changed Tuesday night. The important thing is that he will recover. He and I have been spared a tragedy.


April 18, 2005

This should be interesting

During the 25 plus years we have lived at our current location, we have observed hunters on the Federal ground near our home. For the most part, they are courteous and non intrusive. However, we have, in a general sort of way, formed opinions about these hunters.

The first out in the fall are the dove hunters. There is a field about a half mile from our house that is a popular dove area. Around the first week in September, we see among the regular vehicles fancy SUVs, new extended cab pickups, and high end cars parked along the road with their inhabitants sipping coffee waiting for the time to start the hunt.

Later in the fall we see the deer bow and black powder hunters. They drive regular vehicles—nothing fancy—but they are there day after day. Their perseverance is impressive.

November brings the start of the quail season. For some reason, there is never a large group. Quail hunters have their own places and only use the Federal land intermittently. They are often young men with their dogs and seem to enjoy just getting out. The same profile fits the firearm deer hunters except these guys know where the deer are and when because they have done their scouting before the season starts.

The water fowl and turkey hunters are a secretive bunch with all their camo. We don’t see them—just hear their guns blasting away. We used to hear coon dogs at night. It’s been a few years since I’ve noticed any around our area, though.

Sometime in the past two years feral hogs have taken residence in our valley. There is no season or specific time set aside for hunting so day, night anytime is good. Hogs are new to the area so we are learning about the serious hunters. Sunday about 10:30 am we were on our way to the neighbors when we passed a group of hog hunters. They were wearing old beat up cowboy hats, leaning against a beat up pickup drinking beer. Their homemade plywood dog box in the back of the pickup had huge letters written across the back that read, “Bite me” This should be interesting.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I moved here from Texas and was starting to hunt hogs with dogs then when I found out the ridilicious laws that KS has put in to prevent hog hunting....I put back one dog to Texas where he would use up his puppy energy on hogs in training while I kept my older dog here. I'm going to try to get the special permit then buy a trap. I prefer hunting hogs with dogs because then you can actually find hogs better that way. Traps only get the young and the stupid. The smart ones..you have to put dogs on 'em. The smart ones are the ones that get big and dangerous. Found out there are feral hogs about 20 miles from where I live in Wichita! Those were supposedly dumped by a local farmer after hog prices fell a few years ago..am doing research on that. If you would like suggestions on what bait to use to trap them email me directly at: TedH71@yahoo.com Hogs wander in search of food...in Texas we sometimes have drought conditions so they relocate to where there is water (they can't tolerate excessive heat without water) and hiding places. As for them moving around at night..well dog hunting is actually better at night because the dogs don't get as hot so alot of hog hunters hunt at night. I'm a beginner hog hunter who likes to travel and meet people so feel free to shoot me an email and keep me on your blog because I have a feeling that the Livestock Commissioner isn't gonna be able to prevent hog hunting at all. I've seen a video on Youtube showing a feral hog in KS being shot.

Anonymous said...

Forgot add that I was hunting hogs IN Texas!

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