PUXICO, MO (KFVS) - Dangerous, destructive and full of diseases- we are talking about feral hogs.
Conservation agents believe the feral hog population near Mingo National Wildlife Refuge could be the largest in Missouri, and they want to stay ahead of the problem.
The animals multiply quickly and cause all kinds of problems for humans, land, and livestock.
Wednesday, Missouri conservation experts took to the skies to hunt down the hogs and shoot them from the air inside Mingo National Wildlife Refuge near Puxico. They closed the refuge for the day in order to complete the operation.
"They carry diseases and parasites and destroy all kinds of land as they root and hunt for food. They pose a threat to wildlife and the private pork industry." said Rex Martensen, of the Missouri Department of Conservation.
Martensen has extensive experience trapping hogs on the ground, and also with aerial shooting efforts to control the feral hog population around Missouri.
"Mingo is one of the most populated areas in the state. That goes along with Iron, Wayne, and Reynolds counties. Those are an area known as the hog belt," said Martensen. "The main message is hogs are bad for Missouri."
Martensen says if they don't control it, the population will multiply quickly. He says the hogs are actually very intelligent.
'Most of the pigs we see we will kill," said Martensen."When we see pigs we are going to shoot them. They've already been able to track some from the ground so we already know some places and areas to look."
"They're pretty nasty critters," said Ben Mense, Mingo's Refuge Manager. Mense is part of the team assisting from the ground.
"These feral hogs are definitely one of the most damaging the most troublesome threats and they are tough to control," said Mense. "We are even seeing significant amount of damage to our infrastructure, including our roads and levees where we have to go in and repair them."
While numbers are hard to track, Mense believes there are around 200 feral hogs in the refuge. Agents say hog populations can triple in an area in a year if they don't take a proactive approach. They are one of the few animals conservations agents advise to shoot on sight.
"We really don't encourage folks to just go hunt for feral hogs in Missouri but we do encourage people to shoot them when they see them," said Mastersen.
Nationwide several states have efforts underway to get rid of feral hogs.
Trapping is another method. Experts say the hogs are so smart they often figure out how to avoid capture.
Agents say they did have some success on Wednesday. Mingo will be open on Thursday.