| by Kenneth Chase | No comments

Exclusion Fencing for Feral Hogs Around Wildlife Feeders


You know in Texas, we supplement our white
tailed deer with some 300 million pounds of shelled corn annually. Now most of that corn
is run through feeders as a form of bait during hunting season, but it can also serve as an
energy source during the winter months. But unfortunately, a good bit of that 300 million
pounds of shelled corn is going to non-target species such as raccoons and wild pigs. The
problem with wild pigs having access to that bait is that we’re probably making our wild
pig problem worse due to the supplementation of corn. Sows become in better physiological
condition, which means they produce more eggs, have larger litters, and more of those pigs
in those litters survive as a result of access to supplementation. Additionally, white tailed
deer don’t want to be around wild pigs, and if you have a deer herd that’s around a feeder
feeding or around a food plot feeding, and you have wild pigs show up, the deer leave
because behaviorally they just don’t want to associate with wild pigs. So we have the
issue of producing more pigs, we have the issue of wild pigs consuming a foodstuff that’s
meant for another species so we have the economic loss associated with that, and then we have
the behavioral issue of deer not wanting to associate with wild pigs, and the white tailed
deer hunting industry in the state of Texas is a two billion dollar plus industry so there’s
a number of reasons on a number of fronts of why we would like to exclude pig access
to supplementation meant for white tailed deer. In 2009 on the Welder Wildlife Foundation,
we conducted a study to determine if we could successfully limit wild pig access to supplemental
feeders feeding shelled corn, but at the same time not significantly reduce deer access
to those same feeders. So in July and October of 2009, we put up feeders, we filmed with
remote-sensing cameras all species visits and calculated a visitation rate by all species,
and then following a period of time, we then erected the excluders around each feeder.
Now each excluder consisted of 6 panels, 16 feet long, with 12 T-posts. This gives you
a circular excluder of about 29 or 30 feet in diameter. This is about the minimum size
I’d erect because you want to have the opportunity for multiple deer to enter the excluder and
feed at the same time. So if you wanted to make it 8 or 10 panels in perimeter that would
be better, 6 panels, this would be about the minimum size. Plus on most spin feeders, it
will capture about 95% of the shelled corn given at any feeding. We put our excluders
up at three different heights; this happens to be 34 inch, this is the height of a standard
swine panel with a small graduated mesh at the bottom coming up. We also split some 60
inch panels and made 28 inch high panels so we had 34, 28, and then we had 20 inch high
panels. So among those three heights we wanted to determine if we could successfully exclude
pigs from those feeding areas. What we found is that large pigs could actually breach the
20 inch high panels. They could climb over the panels and access the feed. However, we
had no breaches occur at either a 28 inch height or a 34 inch height, the height of
the standard swine panel. And more importantly, we did not significantly reduce deer access
to those feeders. With the cost being about equal to erect a 34 inch or a 28 inch high
excluder, what we now recommend is the use of 34 inch swine panels and 12 T-posts as
a minimum. It’ll cost about $175 per feeder location to erect this if you go with the
minimum of 6 panels. However, just in feed consumption alone, where you have intense
interaction between deer and wild pigs in competition for that food source, they could
easily pay for themselves in 1-2 hunting seasons. Now some subsequent research from Texas A&M-Kingsville
that was conducted indicated that if you have excluder heights above 33 inches, it can limit
fawn access. So what we’ve done is we’ve removed this top mesh down, dropped it from 34 inches
down to 28 inches, and cut about a 4-foot wide notch, and if you’ll place several of
these around the perimeter of your feeder excluder, what we’ve done is we’ve enhanced
fawn access and dropped the height to 28 inches. We still had no wild pig breaches occur at
the 28 inch height, so if you’re concerned about fawn access, you can cut several of
these notches around the perimeter, continue to exclude wild pigs from having access to
that supplement, but enhance the fawn access and not impact your adult deer access at all.
So this is a really good way to limit wild pig access to your supplement for all those
reasons I mentioned, and as a result we’re on a campaign to have hunters across the state
of Texas to fence their feeders, if they have habitat that wild pigs and wild tailed deer
share.

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