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March 2, 2009

Hog hunts scheduled on WMA, Forest Service lands

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) are initiating efforts to remove feral hogs from their respective properties. Feral hogs cause significant damage to roads, wildlife openings and dikes, as well as compete for the same food sources as many game species including squirrels, deer, and wild turkeys.  Not only do feral hogs compete for food resources, they also destroy the nests of many ground nesting bird species including the wild turkey and quail.
A special feral hog removal effort will take place on the Wambaw Wildlife Management Area (WMA) of the Francis Marion National Forest.  This will be a still and stalk hog hunt (no dogs) beginning March 9 and continuing until March 21.  Weapons allowed include: archery, crossbow, centerfire rifles, muzzleloaders, centerfire handguns, and shotguns with slugs. Hunting occurs from one hour before legal sunrise to one hour past legal sunset.  Hunters must obtain a hangtag for each vehicle daily from the Honey Hill Lookout Tower, Awendaw Check Station on Highway 17, or the U.S. Forest Service Wambaw Ranger Station in McClellanville.  The hangtag must be accurately completed prior to and after each hunt and then deposited into the receptacle at one of the above listed locations.

According to Biologist Mark Danaher of the USFS, "Feral hogs are destroying multiple habitat types and competing with wildlife as well as destroying potential habitats for threatened and endangered plants throughout Francis Marion National Forest."   

Hog hunts with dogs have been scheduled for both sides (side A & B) of Bonneau Ferry WMA for March 5-6, March 20, and May 7-8.  No youth restrictions exist for these hunts.  All hunters must sign in and sign out and record harvest at the kiosk located at the main entrance off Highway 402.  One shotgun per party (buckshot only) and sidearms are permitted.  Hunting occurs from legal sunrise to legal sunset. 

Similar habitat destruction is happening on Bonneau Ferry WMA according to DNR biologist Will Carlisle, "Feral hogs are decimating chufa patches planted for turkeys as well as other wildlife crops planted in wildlife openings. They are also causing damage to the dikes," states Carlisle.  With the increasing cost of seed and fertilizer as well as high fuel costs, chufa patches will not be planted on Bonneau Ferry WMA this year according to Carlisle. 

Hunters on both areas must have in possession a hunting license, a WMA permit and wear a hat, jacket, or vest of solid international orange while hunting. No hogs may be transported alive.  All WMA rules and regulations apply. 

Both agencies are using all available measure to eradicate hogs from their properties including liberal opportunities to harvest hogs during all scheduled hunts, trapping measures, special hog hunts, and having U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Wildlife Services assist with removal of feral hogs as well.

DNR protects and manages South Carolina’s natural resources by making wise and balanced decisions for the benefit of the state’s natural resources and its people.

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