Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt has called for strong action from a task force and the legislature to control feral hogs, reported in over 20 of the state’s 114 counties, with a population estimated at 5,000 to 10,000.

“Feral hogs pose serious threats to Missouri agriculture, natural resources and our economy,” Blunt says. “Controlling feral hog populations will help spare the state and Missourians from the damage to land and other property, as well as the associated economic losses that would escalate as the population of feral hogs grows in our state.”

Blunt issued an executive order to form the multi-agency Task Force on Feral Hogs. The group represents public, state, local, private, conservation and farming interests. A feral hog is defined as any hog not ear tagged and roaming freely on public or private land.

Feral hogs destroy property, potentially spread disease to people, livestock and pets. They also create risk to the pork industry through the potential transmission of disease to domestic swine.

The governor’s 10-member task force is charged with:

-- Developing an educational program about the negative impact of feral hogs;

-- Reviewing state laws regarding the illegal release of hogs;

-- Formulating and implementing voluntary disease-testing standards for feral hogs;

-- Establishing a contingency plan if disease poses a major risk to humans, livestock and/or wildlife populations in Missouri;

-- Implementing stringent steps to remove all feral hogs from public lands and encouraging the same effort on private land; and

-- Expanding enforcement efforts to eliminate sources of feral hogs (such as escaped animals from traditional hog operations).

The task force presented aggressive plans to deter the further development of feral hog populations in Missouri and is leading efforts to fund an eradication program.