One of Oklahoma's greatest animal nuisances may soon meet its match under a proposed bill that passed the State Senate Monday. Senator Roger Ballenger is author of Senate Bill 70 to create the Feral Swine Control Act.
"These non-native animals are dangerous pests in our state. They destroy our natural resources, inhibit agriculture production and carry deadly diseases," said Ballenger, D-Okmulgee. "As the feral swine population in our state continues to grow, we're going to see increased damage to our crops, livestock, and wildlife habitats. And even worse, we’re going to be facing increasing health risks because of the diseases they carry. So it's very important that we get the population under control through whatever means necessary."
The Act would allow for aggressive measures to reduce the number of feral swine in Oklahoma, which are carriers of such diseases as brucellosis, pseudorabies, tuberculosis, anthrax, and trichinosis. Individuals would not be required to have a hunting license to kill these animals as long as they are on the individuals' land and removed during daylight. If a person wants to deal with these animals at night, the appropriate permit would have to be obtained from the Department of Wildlife Conservation, which is good for only 90 days. SB 70 also requires persons transmitting these animals through the state to have a special permit.
"The measure not only gives citizens permission to get rid of these pests in whatever way they see fit, it also charges those that release these animals on public and private land with a felony punishable with up to two years in prison or a fine of two-thousand dollars or both," said Ballenger. "We're not only dealing with those animals born in the wild, but ones born in captivity and then released into the wild. This is dangerous and violators will be prosecuted."
The measure now moves to the House for consideration.