European Wild Hog Hunting Season Recommendations Based On Reproductive Data

Wild sows are physiologically capable of farrowing during any season of the year. However, there are two main farrowing periods; mid-winter (January and February) and early summer (May and June). To determine the importance of the different farrowing periods and the most appropriate time to subject the species to hunting pressure, the year was divided into three periods: December-March, April-July, and August-November. Based on the percentage of sows killed on managed hunts which were pregnant, the December-March period has the highest natality and litters are larger during this same period. The April-July period is when hunting would be most damaging to herd productivity because most of the adult sows are either pregnant or suckling, and death of the sows means death to the fetuses or dependent pigs. Most of the hogs killed during the managed hunts were born in the April-July period, indicating higher mortality among winter born hogs. The August-November period has the highest number of juveniles per female and is thus the period of the highest populliition. August would probably be the month best suited for hog hunting to minimize harmful effects to the reproductive capacity of the herd. Because an August hunting season is impractical, due to the climate and terrain, it is concluded that the fall hunts in November, as now conducted, are the most desirable of the possible hunting periods. The European wild hog (Sus scrota L.) has been the subject of a full time research project by the Tennessee Game and Fish Commission since 1959. This project has been conducted on the Tellico Wildlife Management Area in the Appalachian Mountains of southeastern Tennessee. During this study the hog has apparently not achieved its reproductive potential and has never been as numerous as other big game animals, such as deer (Odocoileus virginianus). The hog has several advantages over similar big game species in maintaining populations, particularly their omnivorous diet and greater productivity (4-5 young per litter). Because of these apparent advantages the failure to increase in numbers is a matter of some concern. Possible limiting factors include hunting and non-hunting mortality, range capacity, reproductive failures, and interspecific and intraspecific competition. This paper summarizes available information on reproduction in wild hogs to determine if the present fall hunting season for the species may be a factor seriously curtailing herd productivity. The ultimate objective of this paper is to determine the time, or times, of the year best suited for hunting the species, to minimize harmful effects to the reproductive capacity of the herd by killing pregnant or suckling sows.

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