The Missouri Department of Conservation is considering changing regulations to help landowners address damage caused by problem wildlife and feral hogs.
MDC is proposing the changes in response to citizen requests to the Regulations Committee to use night vision or thermal imagery to address livestock loss caused by coyotes and damage caused by feral hogs, according to a Thursday news release.
The proposed regulation would allow a conservation agent to authorize methods other than shooting or trapping, such as thermal imaging, for taking wildlife that are causing damage to private property. MDC emphasizes the landowner or landowner representatives would be required to obtain written authorization from their local conservation agent to use thermal imaging or night vision equipment to control problem wildlife. Other sections of this rule already allow a conservation agent to authorize additional methods to control deer and other wildlife that are damaging private property.
In addition, MDC is considering a regulation change that would allow a landowner representative to use thermal imagery or night vision equipment to eliminate feral hogs from the landowner's property after obtaining authorization from a conservation agent. Landowners can currently use thermal imagery and night vision equipment on their own property.
Possession of thermal imaging or night vision equipment while in possession of a firearm, bow or other method where wildlife could be harvested is prohibited under the Wildlife Code of Missouri, except when permitted by a conservation agent or when a landowner is controlling feral hogs on his own property.
Feral hogs are an invasive species that cause millions of dollars in agricultural, environmental and property damage, as well as harm native wildlife, according to the news release. MDC has banned hunting of feral hogs on all lands owned, managed or leased by the department. Hog hunting on private lands, though discouraged, is permitted.
The Missouri Conservation Commission gave initial approval on the proposed regulation changes during its Aug. 23 meeting. As part of the rulemaking process, MDC is asking for public comment through Oct. 31 at short.mdc.mo.gov/Z49. The commission will then make a final decision to move approve, amend or withdraw the changes during its Dec. 13 meeting. If approved, the anticipated effective date of the changes would be Feb. 29, 2020.
For more information on nuisance and problem species, visit the MDC website at short.mdc.mo.gov/Z5L.