FREDERICKTOWN, Mo. — A section of wilderness in Mark Twain National Forest will be closed to the public next week.
The closure allows crews to safely work on eliminating feral hogs that have overrun the area. The effort includes shooting feral hogs from a helicopter.
The closure for the Rockpile Mountain Wilderness is in effect Monday at 6 a.m. to Friday, March 18 at 6 p.m. Trails are closed and the public cannot access the area.
The Rockpile Mountain Wilderness is near the Potosi-Fredericktown Ranger District. The same area was closed for a few days in January for the same purpose. Other areas of Mark Twain National Forest have also faced closures.
A Missouri Department of Conservation report says nearly 10,000 feral hogs were culled in Missouri in 2021.
Feral hogs are destructive and dangerous. They have been known to attack people. A woman in Texas was killed by a group of feral hogs outside a home in 2019.
The animals are known to carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans and domestic animals. They are harmful to native animals and habitats, tearing deep ruts, destroying fields, causing erosion and endangering natural areas.
The feral hogs are prolific and the population can grow 166% each year, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation. They first became a problem in Missouri in the 1990s when they were intentionally released for sport hunting.
MDC's tactic for population control involves capturing entire feral hog groups in one trap, rather than hunting individual animals.
Feral hog sightings should be reported MDC at 573-522-4115 extension 3296, or report online here.