(WMBF) – Feral hog populations continue to increase. The wild hogs have no natural predators and are reproducing fast.
Georgetown and Horry counties are two areas in the state seeing major growth in wild hogs.
The wild hogs create obstruction for farmers and golfers.
The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is looking to reduce feral hog damage nationally, and it is asking for input from the public on its proposed environmental impact statement that is part of the APHIS Feral Swine Damage Management Program.
Some states allow sport hunting for feral hogs. Recently, Southern Hog Slayers, a local company in Conway, was chosen to participate in a reality show featuring feral hog hunts along the Grand Strand.
Three hog hunts with dogs have been scheduled by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources to remove and eliminate feral hogs from North Island in Georgetown County.
"Feral hogs have continued to cause destruction to the landscape and native plants, jeopardizing the nesting success of ground-nesting birds and sea turtle nests scattered along the beaches of this barrier island," said Jamie Dozier, wildlife biologist with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
In order to help remove the destructive feral hogs, DNR will allow three hog hunts with dogs to take place on North Island only. The three day hunt periods (Thursday-Saturday) are scheduled for Feb. 12-14, 19-21, and 26-28 from sunrise to sunset only.
North Island is only accessible after crossing Winyah Bay by boat and contains 1,410 acres of uplands and 1,703 acres of marsh. Hunters are reminded this is a remote location and can be a strenuous hunt.
Hunters must comply with the following guidelines in order to participate in the North Island hog hunts with dogs:
* No more than four bay or catch dogs per party.
* No still or stalk hunting is allowed.
* One shotgun permitted per party (buckshot only), and sidearms will also be permitted.
* Hog hunters must have in their possession a valid South Carolina hunting license.
* All hunters are required to wear a hat, coat, or vest of solid international orange while hunting.
* Hogs may not be removed from North Island alive.
Hunters are also reminded the North Island lighthouse grounds are off limits. Do not enter the buildings or area immediately surrounding the lighthouse.
The staff at the USDA Wildlife Services would like to collect information about the number of hogs removed. Hunters should call their toll free phone number (1-866-4USDAWS ext. 12) to report any hogs harvested. DNR staff will also periodically be on site to collect pertinent information.
For more information contact the Yawkey Wildlife Center at (843) 546-6814.