By Jeff Hampton The Virginian-Pilot May 21, 2012 North Carolina plans to ramp up a campaign to control two rapidlymultiplying, disease-carrying wild animals that often turn up insuburban neighborhoods. The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission proposes allowingnight hunting of feral hogs and coyotes with flashlights on privateland. Night hunting with lights is generally prohibited.Commissioners expect to decide on the new rule in July, and, ifapproved, it would take effect Aug. 1. State officials have consistently expanded rules on trapping andhunting coyotes and feral hogs to control the animals, whichreproduce quickly, eat just about anything and live just aboutanywhere, including near humans.
As of 2005, coyotes were documented in all 100 counties in NorthCarolina, said Colleen Olfenbuttel, a biologist with the wildlifecommission. “Coyotes are here to stay,” she said. Coyotes are wily, just as their reputation indicates. About as bigas medium-size dogs, coyotes will eat pet food and snatchsquirrels, rabbits and feral cats attracted to food in backyards. “Bird feeders are a hot spot,” Olfenbuttel said.
She recommended cleaning out bird feeders during the summer, whenfood for birds is plentiful. Feral hogs also have rapidly expanded their range. A herd candouble every four months. On the Outer Banks, wild hogs havedamaged parts of the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge and thewild horse habitat. Replace iPhone LCD Screen
Rooting up the ground with their snouts and tusks, they createlarge, muddy wallows in an incessant search for food such as birdeggs, young mammals, wildflowers and grazing grasses used by otherwildlife. Last year in Elizabeth City, wild hogs emerged from a swampy areanear the Pasquotank River and tore up gardens and yards in aneighborhood near Albemarle Hospital. Police shot nine hogs beforethe problem abated. Typically, feral hog populations are no more than domestic swinegone wild that over time get darker and grow longer hair and biggertusks, said Evin Stanford, a state biologist. Herds have beendocumented in Bertie, Pasquotank, Camden and Currituck counties. Blackberry LCD Screens
“They are not native. They destroy habitat and they carrydisease,” Stanford said. “They are simply notdesirable.” Game wardens will be on the watch for hunters that might takeadvantage of night hunting to shoot deer after dark, which isillegal, said Capt. Norman Watts, an enforcement officer with thewildlife commission. Some groups fear that hunters looking to shoot coyotes willmistakenly kill red wolves, a rare and important species that livesin five eastern counties. Portable USB Power Bank Manufacturer
Coyotes take up red wolf habitats andoften breed with their cousins. Shooting coyotes should help,Olfenbuttel said. Hog and coyote seasons already run year-round, but if the rule isapproved, hunters would be able to track them down night and day,except on Sundays. “Yeah, I’m going to do that,” said Richard Pridgen, anavid hog hunter.
Pridgen already enjoys dressing in full camouflage, loading his12-gauge shotgun with buckshot and ever-so-carefully steppingthrough the maritime forests of the Currituck Outer Banks in searchof wild hogs. In warmer months, he wears boots and chaps to protect himself fromsnakebites. He tries to approach a swine herd from the downwindside; one misstep, and a wary hog grunts the warning that sends theothers scrambling. He uses a half-full bottle of water in his pocket to test hisstealth.
“If you hear the water slosh, you’re walking too fast,”he said. Pridgen can take down a boar with buckshot from 50 yards, he said. Since he works weekdays, Saturday morning is usually the only timehe gets for hunting hogs. If the new rule passes, he can practicehis hobby at night after work – and with the game warden’sblessing.
Jeff Hampton, 252-338-0159, firstname.lastname@example.org.