State wildlife officials are encouraging hunters heading out for Wisconsin’s traditional nine-day gun deer hunting season to keep an eye out for feral pigs. Feral pig sightings and harvests should be reported on the Department of Natural Resources website, dnr.wi.gov, by searching the keywords “feral pigs.”
Since 1997 feral pig have been reported in at least 51 Wisconsin counties, although not all of these reports have been verified.
“Each year we receive reports of feral pig sightings and harvests from around the state,” Dan Hirchert, DNR wildlife damage specialist, said. “Fortunately most of these reports turn out to be domestic pigs that were running loose; however, any report of feral pigs is of interest and concern given the negative impacts they can have on the environment, Wisconsin’s agriculture, and our domestic swine industry.”
Feral pigs have been defined as “existing in an untamed or wild, unconfined state, having returned to such a state from domestication.”
Feral pigs can be found across a wide variety of habitats and are highly destructive because of the rooting they do in search of food. They’re also efficient predators preying on many species including whitetail deer fawns and ground nesting birds like grouse, woodcock, turkeys, and songbirds.
Feral pigs are known to carry a number of diseases of danger to humans and the domestic swine industry, including swine brucellosis, pseudorabies and leptospirosis.
For removal purposes, feral pigs are currently considered unprotected wild animals and may be hunted year-round. The only day they cannot be hunted with a gun is the Friday before the day of the nine-day gun deer hunting season. Also, feral pig hunting hours are the same as for deer during the nine-day season. During the rest of the year, there are no hunting hour restrictions for feral pigs.
There is no bag limit on feral pigs. Landowners may shoot feral pigs on their own property without a hunting license. Anyone else can shoot a feral pig as long as they possess a valid small game license, sport license, or patron license and have landowner permission if they are on private land.
While the department encourages the removal of feral pigs whenever possible, Hirchert cautions that before shooting “hunters need to be sure the pigs are feral and they are not their neighbor’s domestic pigs that may have just escaped. Hunters could be liable for the replacement cost of the pig if they are domestic.”
A call to the local sheriff’s office can help to determine if escaped pigs have been reported by the owner.
Additional information on feral pigs and feral pig hunting is available on the DNR website. Visit dnr.wi.gov and keyword search “feral pigs.”
State officials request that anyone shooting a feral pig call a DNR service center or contact a DNR wildlife biologist so that blood and tissue samples can be collected for disease testing in collaboration with U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection veterinarians office.