AMORY, Miss. (WCBI) – For years, hundreds of thousands of wild hogs have been tearing up farmland and displacing native wildlife all across Mississippi as well as the entire South.
For the past eight years, Steven Gruchy has been trying to eradicate the wild hogs from the 1,200-acre farm he helps manage in Amory.
“They’re a curse on the landscape,” he says. “They really compete with native wildlife and they’ll displace deer entirely from a property that’s had deer for years.”
The Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce estimates there are more than 500,000 hogs across the state.
“I got a picture from down in South Mississippi where the hogs actually uprooted a local state highway,” says Andy Gipson, Mississippi’s Commissioner for Agriculture and Commerce. “They’re a very serious threat are farmers and landowners.”
According to Mississippi State, the hogs cause close to $65 million dollars worth of damage a year. The pigs are an invasive species that breed and spread rapidly.
They’re also hard to catch.
“If they witnessed other pigs get trapped, and they escaped, they’ll likely never go back into another trap (like that one),” Gruchy says.
So the Department of Agriculture and Commerce and Mississippi Legislature have developed the Wild Hog Control Program, the nation’s first such program led by a department of agriculture.
“We’ve developed a system whereby we have a convoy of smart traps,” Gipson says. “We have 20 traps at present that we’re rotating through Mississippi, at the request of farmers.”
The HogEye is a motion activated camera system that syncs up with a 📱that sends the user alerts when something’s moving and lets them view it via livestream. All it takes is the push of a button on the phone to catch the 🐗 pic.twitter.com/urylzrkxWl
— Stephen Pimpo (@spimpojr) July 20, 2021
Trappers keep the corral baited for however long it takes for the entire sounder (group of pigs) to feel comfortable inside.
“With these high-tech camera systems, you can pay close attention to how many pigs are in that sounder,” Gruchy says. “Your goal is to catch every pig and leave no witnesses and these make it much easier to do that.”
These HogEye Trap Cameras were developed by Wildlife Dominion here in Crawford as a more efficient way to catch these animals. The motion-activated camera system syncs up with a smartphone that sends the user alerts when something’s moving inside the corral.
“This allows you to trap when you want to and, and also because it’s a live feed system you can see the animals and what’s around it so you know how many animals you’re fixing to get and what you’re not gonna get.”
“The other night we caught 27 at one time,” Gipson says. “I think in Prentiss County we caught 17 or 18 at a time.”
Gruchy says he’s captured 24 so far out in Amory.
With wild hogs plaguing the entire south, Gipson says he’s heard from other states praising Mississippi’s program and hopes they can lead the way in finally solving this pest control problem.
“As I say all the time, stop talking about it and start killing some hogs,” Gipson said.
The new application period for these camera traps begins on July 26th and lasts until August 9th. Landowners must provide proof of the hogs on their property and are responsible for exterminating them and disposing of the carcasses.