Nuisance Wildlife and Damage Management
Wildlife management is often thought of in terms of protecting, enhancing, and nurturing wildlife populations and the habitat needed for their well-being. However, many species at one time or another require management actions to reduce conflicts with people or with other wildlife species. Examples include a biologist trapping an abundant predator or competing species to enhance survival of an endangered species, a farmer excluding deer from an agronomic field that provides a livelihood, or removal of pigeons from a downtown building.
Wildlife damage control is an increasingly important part of the wildlife management profession because of expanding human populations and intensified land-use practices. Along with the growing need to reduce wildlife-people conflicts, public attitudes and environmental regulations are restricting use of some of the traditional tools of control such as toxicants and traps. Agencies and individuals carrying out control programs are being more carefully scrutinized to ensure that their actions are justified, environmentally safe, and in the public interest. Wildlife damage control must be based on sound economic, ecological, and sociological principles and carries out as positive, necessary components of overall wildlife management programs.
Wildlife damage control programs can be thought of as having four parts:
- Problem definition
- Ecology of the problem species
- Control methods application
- Evaluation of control
We must first understand what species is causing the problem, how many are involved, and the amount of loss. We must understand the life history, biology, and behavior of the species. We need to know what control methods are available, including exclusion methods (such as fencing), frightening devices, toxicants, repellents, and harvest. All of these are not options for every species. Generally, combinations of control methods are more effective than use of only one method. This can be termed integrated wildlife damage management.
Mississippi is blessed with abundant wildlife populations, but with these blessings come some problems as well. With a deer population approaching 2 million animals, crops are increasingly being damaged, deer-vehicle collisions are increasing, and even newly established forest are being impacted. Beavers destruction of timber and impoundment levees, fish eating birds impacting the catfish industry, and urban wildlife damage are all on the increase are just a few of the species issues being addressed.
For information about solving problems with wildlife, please see the Prevention and Control of Wildlife Damage Handbook.
Wild hogs are known to cause external damage to land, property and wildlife, but the internal diseases they carry are equally dangerous.
More than 40 known diseases are traced to wild hogs, but the two most common in Mississippi are pseudorabies and swine brucellosis. Each can be deadly to livestock and domestic animals. The best way to prevent these infections is to trap and kill hogs rather than simply building fences to keep them out.
The first rule of transporting wild hogs is to not transport wild hogs. Bronson Strickland is the Mississippi State University Extension Service wildlife biologist and management specialist. He said the best way residents can help eradicate wild hogs is to hunt them while also trapping and killing them. Hunters who bring wild hogs into the state or relocate them for hunting, however, are committing a crime.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Rooting and wallowing by wild hogs cause extensive land and crop damage, which can be stopped only by getting rid of the invasive animals.
Bill Hamrick, a wildlife associate with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said wild hogs use their snouts to turn over soil as they search for food.
"I heard someone say that if it has a calorie and they can get their mouth around it, hogs will eat it," Hamrick said. "Wild hogs are a generalist species. They eat whatever they can find year-round."
The number of wild hogs living in an area determines the severity of their impact on wildlife, as these invasive creatures eat any source of nutrition they can find.
Wild hogs cost Mississippians millions of dollars each year, but landowners stand to lose more than money if the nuisance animals’ range and population continue to grow.
Left unchecked, wild hogs have the potential to steal property owners’ investments and cripple the state’s ecosystem in the process.
Trevor Garrett stays busy. He divides his days between farming soybeans with his father, Johnnie Ferrell Garrett, and working as a research associate at Mississippi State University's Pontotoc Ridge–Flatwoods Branch Experiment Station.