New Bern, NC – In recent years, there have been increased sightings of coyote and feral hogs in the state. This has prompted the NC Wildlife Resources Commission to propose year round nighttime hunting as a way to control their populations.
"After a little hunting pressure, they're both are fairly intelligent and they become nocturnal. "
Coastal Region Supervisor Robbie Norville says hunting for coyote and feral swine is already legal in North Carolina, but the proposal would allow hunting to take place after dark.
"the belief is that this would be just one more tool in the tool box for a landowner or farmer who is having a nucience problem. That they would be able to handle that problem with more than just what is now considered legal shooting hours, which is a half hour before sunrise and a half hour after sunset."
Norville adds the proposal would allow feral swine and coyote hunting on Sundays on private lands with archery equipment. Coyotes can be seen and even heard -- in and around the forests of eastern North Carolina. While coyotes are usually skittish, Norville says they aren't afraid to come into your yard looking for food.
"Typically, issues with coyotes are they've gotten into the chicken coop or they may have taken a small pet. Occasionally, but it's rare, we'll get a report of coyotes taking small livestock a calf or a goat or something like that but those are typically fairly rare."
The usual diet for coyotes includes birds, snakes, lizards, and squirrels. But Norville says it may occasionally hunt larger game.
"they also can be and we have not seen this so far but there are some current studies being carried out at Fort Bragg to look at the preditor/prey relationship between coyotes and white tail deer. As you know, white tail deer are our number one game animal in North Carolina and are responsible for generating somewhere between 300 and 500 million dollars a year in income to people in North Carolina. So it's important we learn about it."
Unlike coyotes, feral hogs cause major damage to crops.
"If you have any feral swine at all, you have a problem because they do so much damage."
In the United States, feral swine cause about 800 million dollars every year in crop loss, according to a 2004 Wildlife Damage study conducted by the University of Nebraska. The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission does not keep track of the agricultural loss caused by feral hogs. But Noville says they do keep gps coordinates of where the damage occurs on a national database.
"Usually when I get a crop damage report, it's in a corn field where the pigs have gone in and rooted up the corn, knocked the corn down, and eaten what corn in there. But they will also get in the rows where farmers have planted and root those rows up as well looking for food. They may also root up the seed once it has been planted."
And it's not just farmers. Norville says he's heard from a homeowner whose vegetable garden was destroyed. Feral hogs aren't native to eastern North Carolina or the United States for that matter. They were brought over on ships from early explorers as domestic livestock. Since they have no natural predators, it's believed that their populations have grown in North Carolina. That's based on an increase in sightings and reports of crop damage because Norville says there is no definitive way of conducting density estimates. If you suspect feral hogs have damaged your home garden or crops, Norville says
"(they) probably should start by calling district wildlife biologist to get a determination as to what is doing the damage. They are also our contact for the issuance of permits for shooting. The permit for trapping and night shooting of feral swine are currently available via our website, ncwildlife.org."
Next month, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission will hold a series of five public meetings on the nighttime hunting proposal. The meetings held in eastern North Carolina take place March 26th at the Bladen county Courthouse in Elizabethtown... and March 28th at Pitt Community College in Greenville. For more information, go to the WRC's website we've provided a link on our homepage. For PRE, I'm Jared Brumbaugh.
For More Information on the Wildlife Resource Commission Meetings: