BOLLINGER COUNTY, MO (KFVS) – They damage land, kill livestock, and carry disease. Feral hogs, a rapidly growing problem in southeast Missouri.
Conservation officials say they are now spreading from the west into areas like Bollinger and Perry counties.
People like Norman VanGennip notice their presence as well.
"They destroy everything around them," said VanGennip.
He has story after story of feral hog sightings and shootings among his friends and neighbors in Bollinger County. He says they're showing up all the time, in fact he's killed two.
"I saw him and I shot him," said VanGennip.
He says the wild hogs were bothering his pigs and tearing up his land.
"The one I shot was about 300 pounds," said VanGennip. "I had to load it with the front end loader."
"I can't think of anything good about feral hogs in Missouri," said A.J. Hendershott, a Missouri Conservation agent.
He says pictures coming in from hunters' game cameras demonstrate what they suspected. The hogs are reproducing in greater numbers. Hendershott says they are moving into areas near Marble Hill and Perryville. He says now just to control the population, 75 percent of the hogs need to be destroyed each year.
"Those fangs and tusks can hurt," said Hendershott. "This is a serious issue. We think of hogs as cute little pigs and that's not what these are."
As long as the methods are within regulation, deer hunters are encouraged to shoot the hogs on sight. However, he says now they have to also crack down on people releasing the hogs to hunt.
"That is illegal and just creates problems for everybody," said Hendershott. "It's not good for Missouri. "