Feral swine are known by many names: wild boar, wild hog, razorback, piney woods rooter, and more. But one thing that everyone in agriculture can attest to is just how much damage this invasive species causes while rooting up crops and polluting water sources.
To address the growing “feral swine bomb” in Mississippi, the state’s Department of Agriculture and Commerce has launched a Wild Hog Control Program Youth Trapping Corps.
The new program will expand the existing trapping program, allowing FFA members in 25 schools to offer wild hog trapping services while gaining valuable skills and work-based learning experiences.
“I am proud to report this program has been fully funded through a federal grant, and the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce is working with 25 schools across the state to implement the Youth Trapping Corps,” said MDAC Commissioner Andy Gipson.
The first-of-its-kind program, WHCP will train FFA members on how to trap the hogs, interact with landowners and managers, develop a business plan, and how work with agriculture and natural resources professionals.
Under the guidance of MDAC and their respective teachers, FFA members will work with local private land managers to trap wild hogs where needed.
Teachers will use the grant funding to purchase the most effective wild hog trapping equipment and associated supplies to be used by their students. Additionally, teachers can use financing to buy equipment and supplies to allow their students to build their own traps.
In addition to hands-on experience trapping hogs, the program will provide students with hands-on training related to welding and fabrication. These hands-on skills will be valuable to students when they pursue employment and careers in the future.
Smithville Attendance Center in Monroe County was awarded one of the grants.
“I’m excited about this program and all that my students and FFA members will gain from it. Students will gain knowledge about the impact of wild hogs on agriculture and forest land, as well as learn about wildlife and their habitat,” wrote Kayla Eaton, FFA advisor for Smithville Attendance Center. “Students will get to interact with local farmers and landowners and develop their communication skills. Students will get to help build their career skills through this program as well as generate funds that can be used for future projects and educational trips.”
The FFA chapter at Smithville plans to set up a panel trap with a camera system and purchase a panel kit for students to build in the shop.
“This will give agriculture students that are learning to weld the chance to build a trap using their skills and incorporate it into a trap used within the community. Our supplies are already picked out, and we are getting ready to place the order,” wrote Eaton.
Feral swine have been reported in at least 35 states. While their population is estimated at over 6 million, that number rapidly expands. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that feral swine are responsible for $2.5 billion in damages annually to U.S. agriculture.