Wild hogs rooting up problems for farmers

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Reporter- Elizabeth Fields
Photojournalist- David Dycus

HICKMAN COUNTY, Ky.- Jeff Berryhill is one of the only people in Western Kentucky permitted to hunt feral pigs at night. He's out hunting three nights a week, but says the problem is so bad, he could hunt every night.

"All it takes is one pair out there and you've got a problem," he said.

Kenny Perry, the UK Extension Agent for Graves County told WPSD the pig problem popped up about 12 to 15 years ago.

"People are turning them loose just for sport hunting and they don't realize all the damage they cause," he said.

The problems are wide-spread. The hogs eat corn and soybean seeds as the farmers plant them which prevents the crops from growing. If farmers manage to get a crop to grow, the hogs will root them up, eat them, and make beds in the fields.

That's where Berryhill comes in. He has state-issued permit to hunt hogs at night when the nocturnal animals are most active. He now refers to his job as pest control.

"I knew it would be fun to start with, something new and exciting, but I also knew it would turn into work real fast and it has," he said.

It is legal for hunters to kill the feral pigs year-round during daylight hours, but because so many people
look at hunting the hogs as a trophy sport, trespassing has become a huge problem in the area. Perry admits when the program started, he thought he and Berryhill had been given an impossible task, but is starting to change his mind.

I really feel like we will at some point could see an end to feral hogs in Western Kentucky," he said.

That is unless someone else releases another herd in the area, which he hopes the new law will prevent.
State legislators just passed a law prohibiting anyone from importing or releasing feral pigs. 
  

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