Hunters voice concerns after wild hog hunting changes

9:36 AM, Aug 13, 2011   |    comments
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Andy Ramsey helps his family farm in Cumberland County. This week he has been busy with his land due to an invasive animal.

"Just disgust, that's all you can say," he said while looking at destroyed corn crops. Ramsey claimed the culprits are wild hogs.

"It costs us all the labor that you got put into growing these crops. When they get ready to harvest, they come in and tear them down," said Ramsey.

Ramsey said there was about $20,000 in damage. However in the past, they relied on hunters to protect their land.

That has all changed with new TWRA rules.

"What we have in place is a first attempt to help land owners control the spread of hogs on their property, to reduce or eliminate the damage done to their property," said TWRA assistant director of field operations Steven Patrick.

Twelve years ago, the state allowed wild hog hunting as a way to control the animal's growing population, but the number of wild hogs continues to rise. As reported in July, TWRA also claims some sport hunters have helped hogs spread by introducing them into new areas to create more opportunities to hunt the invasive animals.

TWRA instituted changes in July that eliminated the hunting season, classified hogs as nuisance animal, and gave landowners the right to kill hogs year round on their property without a permit.  Hunters are not allowed to hunt the animal without permission from landowners and are also not allowed to hunt at two state reserves.

"A lot of people just realized what has happened," said hunter Patrick Garrison.  "That's why we've been seeing so many people upset because they have not understood that they have given up their right to hunt wild hogs in the state of Tennessee."

A meeting was held on Friday at Cumberland Mountain State Park in Crossville where hunters and houndsmen voiced their concerns about the issue.

Hundreds of people packed the auditorium, as both sides gave their arguments on the new rule changes. Some felt their rights were violated. TWRA officials said they need to control the population and feel this is best way of doing it.

"Hunters get pretty passionate about their sport and this is a big step in the change in their philosophy to the way it has been," added TWRA's Patrick.

"We want them to 'open season' to hunt them however, whenever," said Ramsey.

The new rules allow landowners to recruit help from up to 10 hunters to kill hogs on their property year round.  While this gives hunters plenty of opportunities to take aim at the hogs, it drastically limits a popular tactic among a large group of sportsmen who use wild dogs to chase the animals over long distances.

TWRA said the recent rule changes are part of several planned steps to work on eradicating wild hogs.

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