SC lawmakers propose bill to quell hog, coyote, armadillo populations

pdonohue@beaufortgazette.comMarch 23, 2012 

  • A bill in the S.C. House would make it easier to kill three non-native species considered pests.

    Wild hogs: Introduced into the state by Europeans in 1500s, their population remained mostly coastal and in small numbers until exploding in the 1990s. Now they are found in all counties, with a statewide population of about 150,000. More than 35,000 are killed in the state each year.

    Coyotes: Introduced into the state to help train hunting dogs in the late 1970s, they spread quickly to all counties. The S.C. Department of Natural Resources has denied for years the rumor that the agency introduced the species to thin deer populations.

    Armadillos: Moved into the state late in the 20th century. Though their range is limited somewhat by cold temperatures, they have spread to many areas of the state in recent years.

    Source: The (Columbia) State

Hunters would get free rein to eradicate wild hogs, coyotes and armadillos under a bill introduced in the S.C. House of Representatives.

Rep. Phillip Lowe this month introduced H4943, which would allow night hunting of the three non-native species from March through June. It also would allow the use of bait, lights and laser sights to help rid the state of the animals.

"We're declaring war on hogs and coyotes," Lowe, R-Florence, said during a House subcommittee meeting Wednesday.

Among the bill's cosponsors are Rep. Shannon Erickson, R-Beaufort, and Rep. Andy Patrick, R-Hilton Head Island, according to legislative records.

Harsh measures are needed to reduce the threat hogs and coyotes pose for crops, livestock and wildlife, according to Lowe and others.

Wild hogs have been in the swamps of the coastal plain and a few mountain areas for centuries but have quickly spread to surrounding areas in recent years.

As the population explodes, so does the damage done, said Rep. Bill Herbkersman, R-Bluffton.

"These hogs can tear up an acre of land in a day," Herbkersman said.

The financial damage caused by hogs and coyotes in the state adds up to tens of millions of dollars each year, according to DNR.

Sgt. Michael Paul Thomas, a DNR law enforcement officer, said hogs have been spotted in outlying parts of Beaufort County but are more prevalent in Jasper and Colleton counties.

"There's no doubt that the hog population has grown significantly," Thomas said. "We're never going to eradicate them. Hogs and coyotes are here to stay, but we are working with the legislature to find a safe and effective solution to keep the numbers in check."

Currently, anyone with a hunting license can shoot wild hogs, coyotes and armadillos year-round, but no license is required for those hunting within 100 yards of their residence, according to state law. There are limits on the types of weapons and ammunition, along with restrictions on night hunting and use of lights.

Herbkersman said he supports Lowe's proposal but wants to make sure hunters don't endanger humans.

"We need to make sure this is done responsibly," Herbkersman said. "Responsibly is the key word in all of this, but I'm for it. When you live in a rural area, it's one of the necessities to be able to protect domestic animals and your property."

The (Columbia) State contributed to this report.

The Island Packet is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service