Whether you love them or hate them, feral hogs are a force to be reckoned with in much of our service area. Texas has long considered feral hogs feral, with no seasons and few restrictions on taking them. In Oklahoma, however, this practice historically has not been the case. Until May 2000, all hogs in Oklahoma were considered domestic and owned. To legally pursue feral hogs, permission from both the landowner and the hog owner was required. Failure to obtain hog-owner permission posed liability problems to hunters or persons who happened to take a stray domestic hog. I am happy to report that things are changing. Recent Oklahoma legislation has removed them from the list of domestic animals and has clarified rules governing harvesting or hunting feral hogs. It establishes some commonsensical rules and guidelines that are much needed to address the proliferation of feral hogs in Oklahoma.
The primary change is that feral hogs are no longer considered domestic animals. A feral hog is defined as any hog running at large whose owner is unknown. If a hog's owner is known, the hog is considered feral five days after escaping confinement. Hog owners can delay the feral designation an additional ten days by notifying adjacent landowners within the first five days.
Another important aspect of this legislation is that it prohibits willfully releasing a hog to live in a wild or feral state on public or private land, which is significant in that this action has been a primary mechanism by which hogs have spread throughout the area. Although this clause of the legislation may be difficult to enforce, it publicly sends the message that releasing hogs into the wild is not an acceptable practice and supports law enforcement personnel in the event that they do make a case.
Other key points included in the legislation deal with taking or hunting feral hogs. To take feral hogs on private land, one still must get the landowner's permission. On public property, feral hogs must be taken by means and times authorized by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. Additionally, no person whose hunting license is revoked may hunt feral hogs.
Although this legislation will not take care of all of the problems associated with the proliferation of feral hogs, it at least gives landowners some firm ground to stand on when dealing with them.