PUXICO, MO (KFVS) - An effort to remove feral hogs took to the skies at Mingo Wildlife Refuge this week.
The national park near Puxico, Missouri and the neighboring Duck Creek Conservation Area were closed to the public Wednesday for safety reasons.
The reason why is because a marksman was intermittently shooting at large groups of the invasive species of pig from a helicopter.
Randy Farrar is with USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Services is leading the multi-agency operation to eliminate feral hogs.
“Our mission is to primarily to eliminate or alleviate damage caused by wildlife or invasive species like feral swine,” Farrar said.
In 2018 the Missouri Feral Hog Partnership eliminated 9,365 pigs, and Farrar attributes the annual increase to additional efforts like this.
The wildlife refuge has a dense population of free roaming boars. Farrar says the pigs can contaminate fresh water sources and destroy crops on surrounding farms.
“A good example we have one corn field where hogs destroyed over a third of the crop,” Farrar said. “After that there are disease issues with livestock. The hogs can devastate pastures and hayfields in short order.”
Farrar says wild boars prefer to live in the remote woods and the helicopter gives them aerial access so they can corral a large group of hogs and kill them all at once.
“it can be very efficient. In Texas the can remove 1000 a week or 2000 a week in one area. Here we’re not going to remove that we don’t have that those kind of hog densities. But we can remove them faster and in a shorter period of time with the helicopter especially under the conditions we have with the flooding right now.”
In about two hours of flying Wednesday afternoon the elimination team shot down 45 hogs and Farrar says they plan to take the helicopter back out Thursday morning.
The Refuge is located in northwestern Stoddard and southeastern Wayne counties in Missouri.