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Ohio House passes bill allowing landowners to shoot feral pigs without license

Chase D'animulls
/
Shutterstock

Ohio lawmakers want to preempt the growth of a feral animal population they say has the potential to decimate the state’s land, sicken its livestock and drain its piggy bank.

The Ohio House voted unanimously Wednesday afternoon to pass a bill letting any Ohio property owner, including those without a hunting license, to shoot and kill feral hogs and wild boar on site—if they notify the Ohio Department of National Resources, through its Division of Wildlife, within 24 hours and follow division rules about how to handle its carcass.

Reps. Bob Peterson (R-Sabina) and Don Jones (R-Freeport) introduced House Bill 503 in May. It cleared the House’s agriculture committee Tuesday by a 9-1 vote.

The invasive hogs are already hounding the state’s southeast region—including Adams, Athens, Gallia, Hocking, Jackson, Lawrence, Scioto, and Vinton Counties, according to ODNR. In earlier committee testimony, Jones said about 100 sightings were called in during 2023, but more are likely lurking uncounted.

“It’s not Porky Pig. It’s not the pigs you see at your fair. These are mean, wild, destructive animals, and they need to be eradicated,” Peterson said in the House.

Other states, largely in the South, have dedicated resources to mitigating their staggering populations of invasive pigs, which could carry diseases like African swine fever or foot-and-mouth disease. Nationwide, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates they’ll wreak $1.5 billion worth of havoc a year.

“The state of Texas currently has a $321 million budget, just for feral hog mitigation—that's a lot of money just to get rid of pigs,” Jones said. “The central point of this bill is to give landowners the right to solve this problem.”

HB 503 makes it a first-degree misdemeanor to own feral swine or wild boar, and a fifth-degree felony to release them into the wild or bring them into the state. It also gets rid of a license that enables Ohioans to feed their swine garbage—something Jones said hasn’t been issued in years.

Numerous commodity organizations have backed it, from the Ohio Pork Council to the Farm Bureau to the Poultry Association. Pork Council Executive Vice President Cheryl Day said the state needs to take “all necessary action.”

As it made its way through the House, nobody testified against HB 503, which is now off to the Senate.

Sarah Donaldson covers government, policy, politics and elections for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. Contact her at sdonaldson@statehousenews.org.