Wild hogs wreaking havoc in Indiana

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That's a take: Jessica Reagor (center), of Chesterton, along with some of the crew from the TV show Brotherhood Outdoors, admire the boar Reagor shot during an episode of the show last year. Reagor has hunted since she was a child. | Supplied photo

On the hunt

Through her membership in Iron Workers Local 395, local hunter Jessica Reagor won a “hunt of a lifetime” with Tom Ackerman, host of the “Brotherhood Outdoors” show on The Sportsman Channel.

On a hunt at the Red Banks Ranch in Red Bluff, Calif., Reagor, Ackerman and others scoured over thousands of unfenced acres on ATVs, pushing thickets of poison oak aside to get shots at wild boar.

As the cameras rolled, Reagor, armed with a modified .270 rifle, hunted sprinting Russian boars.

“I never knew such short legs could run so fast,” Reagor joked.

Reagor came away with a sow and a boar for her efforts.

For the better part of her life, Jessica Reagor has been hunting.

Years before earning her driver’s license, the Lake Station-native-turned-Chesterton-resident began hunting alongside her father, Richie Hertaus, and his younger brothers.

“I really know nothing else but the enjoyment of the outdoors,” Reagor said.

Yet, for Reagor and so many Hoosier State hunters, there’s an emerging threat to the activity they so enjoy: feral hogs.

“These hogs have gotten loose and have had their way with nature,” said Gene Davis, a veteran conservation officer with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Hogging resources

Davis said the hog issue has garnered increasing attention of both the public and the Indiana DNR because these hogs have no natural predators.

“There’s nothing stopping these hogs from reproducing and they can have up to a dozen babies at a time. Then we face a multiplication problem,” Davis said.

In southern Indiana, hogs are traveling into crop fields and often damaging well over an acre in a day’s time. They are also ravaging the acorn crop, which is leaving less sustenance for deer and turkey, thereby threatening the livelihood of those species.

“In some areas of Texas right now, wild hogs have decimated the deer population,” Davis said. “The hogs are more aggressive than deer, so they’re getting the food and running the deer elsewhere.”

Though yet to creep north of the Hoosier National Forest about 40 miles northwest of Louisville, Davis said wild hogs remain a statewide issue.

The hogs can spread disease, some of which can be transferred to pig farms and impact human food, and prey on natural habitat, including turkeys, quail and young livestock.

“The hogs can grow to well over 200 pounds and become quite ferocious and aggressive, even attacking people,” Davis said. “If something’s not done and these hogs continue moving north, we’ll have a bigger problem, particularly as they hit more populous areas.”

According to Davis, solutions are slim: sport hunting or trapping, in which an area is baited with corn to attract the hogs to catch them in nets. Both practices are common in states with feral hog problems, including Tennessee and Texas.

“In Indiana, we’re forced to play catch up here because it’s such a new problem,” Davis said, adding that hunters are allowed to shoot the hogs because they are a feral animal that’s gone wild.