Debra Hubbard, Rotarian of the day for September 7, 2022, introduced Rotary’s speaker for the day, Jacob Tinorello, trapper for the Dugdemona Soil & Water Conservation District. Jacob is a 2019 graduate of Winnfield Senior High School, and worked in the oilfield until the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the industry.
Jacob then began working for the Dugdemona SWC and is one of two trappers for the district. Jacob and his fellow trapper focus only on trapping feral hogs, which have become a serious problem for landowners in the district in the last several years. Feral hogs are very destructive because they find their food by rooting under the surface of the soil for various and sundry bugs, worms and other creatures to eat.
Trapping activities continue 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and the two trappers for the district take turns being on duty through night. According to Jacob, the district has 15 traps available for trapping on private landowners’ property as well as surveillance cameras to check traps remotely.
Two different types of traps are used. One is called a “drop gate” trap, and consists of a metal enclosure with a panel which is left up off the ground until one or more hogs enter to eat the corn used as bait. The trapper receives a signal from the trap on his cell phone when wildlife enters the trap. He can then use the camera to see what’s in the trap, and send a signal to drop the panel when appropriate to capture the wild hogs in the trap.
The second type of trap is a net trap which is laid out on the ground and baited with corn to encourage hogs to root in the area of the trap. Once the hog roots under the net, it can’t get out, and the trapper goes to the site, kills the hogs and disposes of the carcasses according to the preference of the landowner on whose land they were captured.
A landowner within the Dugdemona SWC district whose property is being damaged by feral hog activity should call the conservation office at (318) 628-4438 and ask to consult with a trapper. One of the trappers will contact the landowner, go out and view the property, determine the best location for a trap and set one up. When hogs are captured, a trapper goes out to the trap and kills the hogs, which are then disposed of by the landowner. There is no charge for the trap or the service provided by the SWC district. However, the landowner must see to the disposal of the carcasses of the hogs captured.
Traps may be placed on property used for hunting, according to the desires of the landowner or lessee. Generally, traps are placed on hunting property in the off season, and taken up during hunting season.
A trap is usually left in place as long as hogs are being captured in it. If it has no activity for two weeks or so, the trap will be moved. The district currently has 15 traps, and a couple of traps are available for placement at this time.
Mr. Tinorello reported that the greatest number of hogs he has caught in a single trap at one time is 26. The largest hog he has ever trapped was over 300 pounds. The count per month is quite variable, but is often as many as 50, and the trappers go through 10-15 sacks of corn per week. The population doesn’t seem to be increasing as quickly as in the past. A single sow generally has between two and three litters per year, the same as in years past. However, the litters in the past were between 10 and 20 piglets, whereas now they seem to only produce an average of 5 or 6 per litter.
Mr. Tinorello was unable to pinpoint any particular hotspots for wild hogs in the parish because they are causing problems parish-wide. In Natchitoches Parish, there is a helicopter program for controlling the wild hog population. The landowner selects the acreage of open—farming or grazing—property to be cleared of hogs, and a helicopter with aerial gunning capability hovers over the property and shoots any hogs visible from the air.
Such a program is not available in the Dugdemona district because it is not feasible to spot or shoot wild hogs in forested land.
The trap before which Mrs. Hubbard and Mr. Tinorello are pictured is located off Highway 84 East across from Lynda’s Country Kitchen where damaging activity by feral hogs has been taking place recently.
The Rotary meeting was then adjourned with the Rotary International motto, “Service above self!”
Pictured above from left: Rotarian Debra Hubbard and Jacob Tinorello