Aerial feral hog eradication efforts to temporarily close WMAs access

This undated photo shows feral hogs at the Sulphur River Wildlife Management Area in Miller County, Arkansas.
This undated photo shows feral hogs at the Sulphur River Wildlife Management Area in Miller County, Arkansas.

Special to the Camden News

Six Arkansas Game and Fish Commission wildlife management areas will be temporarily closed for short periods in March in cooperation with the Arkansas Feral Hog Task Force to fight the spread of invasive feral swine in Arkansas.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Wildlife Services will be conducting aerial operations aimed at reducing feral hog populations in the areas. The flights will be dependent on the weather.

To provide safety for the public and comply with USDA regulations, access will not be allowed during the ongoing operations. Varying weather and site specific conditions limits the notice of specific dates of the closures. The closure dates do allow some flexibility to take advantage of resources over large contiguous tracts of habitat.

Work began at the Beryl Anthony Lower Ouachita, Cut-off Creek and Seven Devils WMAs on Monday, and will continue through Friday, March 17.

From March 20-24, eradication efforts will continue at the Trusten Holder and George H. Dunklin Jr. Bayou Meto WMAs.

The operations will end at the University of Arkansas Pine Tree Wildlife Demonstration Area, where USDA officials will work March 27-30.

In the event that access to the areas are restricted, AGFC and partnering agency staff will be on-site to maintain road and access closures, according to AGFC Director Austin Booth.

"We hate to close these areas for these operations, but feral hogs threaten both wildlife and agriculture in Arkansas. They destroy habitat, prey on wildlife and can be linked to disease transmission," Booth said.

The aerial operations are the result of planning and coordination of multiple partners, condensed into several days of actual operations. The AGFC and USDA APHIS would like to thank the public in advance for their patience and understanding while these activities are underway and apologize for any inconvenience related to the operation.

For additional information, contact AGFC Feral Hog Coordinator, Ryan Farney at 501-382-3945 or Arkansas APHIS Director Robert Byrd at 501-835-2318.