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Panel keeps door closed on hog hunting

Published March 4, 2013 4:03 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Legislation proposes tinkering with a ban enacted last year that put an end to turning swine loose for the purpose of hunting them. Rep. John Mathis, R-Vernal, had hoped to exempt private land from the ban, but on Monday the House Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment killed his HB365 in an 8-6 vote after state officials described the consequences should escaped pigs establish feral populations.

The measure aimed to enable the return of successful hunting outfits shut down by the ban, Mathis told the committee.

"This bill is going to help you bring home the bacon again?" joked committee chairman Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab.

But feral swine running free in the countryside would be no laughing matter, cautioned state veterinarian Bruce King. That could happen if irresponsible operators allow pigs to escape. Feral pigs can cause extensive damage to farms, wildlife habitat and spread diseases such as brucellosis.

"It's a big chance on the livestock industry for a small amount of return," King said.

New York allowed pig hunting 15 years ago and that state now has a growing feral pig problem, King said, noting that roaming swine caused $200 million damage to Texas agriculture last year.

Then there is the ridicule Utah could face for allowing such an activity. Hunting a domesticated creature in a fenced area is hardly worthy of being called hunting, according to King

"To me that's shooting fish in a barrel," he said.

bmaffly@sltrib.com