Mississippi’s court system will soon have a chance to show if it’s as serious as the state’s wildlife agency about the wild pig threat when cases reach court involving four people charged recently in an illegal hog operation in Walthall County.
After being tipped off by a concerned citizen, Conservation Officers dismantled a group allegedly responsible for the illegal selling and transporting of wild hogs.
Among those arrested were Christopher Miley and Mandy Miley both of Franklinton, La., who were charged with importation of wild hogs, transporting wild hogs without a permit, unlawful selling of wild hogs, and trapping in Mississippi without an appropriate license.
Also arrested were Bethanie Toothman of Sulphur, La., and Sierra Miley of Tylertown, who were charged with unlawful sale of wild hogs.
According to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, those arrested were trapping, transporting and then selling hogs.
“These subjects were actively trapping wild hogs in both Louisiana and Mississippi, transporting them to their holding pen in Walthall County, then selling them, live, to individuals across southern Mississippi and Louisiana,” stated MDWFP Major Lane Ball.
According to a 2010 study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, wild hogs contribute to $1.5 billion in property damage nationally each year. They also carry numerous diseases and viruses that affect other native and domestic animals as well as humans.
“Due to the destructive nature wild hogs have on personal property, agricultural property and public health, uncovering and eliminating operations like this is extremely important to us,” said Colonel Steve Adcock, who heads the MDWFP enforcement division. “This is another outstanding example of service performed by MDWFP Conservation Officers.”
The rapid spread of wild hogs — which has created a new term in the English Language, the Pig Bomb — is one of the biggest concerns facing conservation officials in the state and the country. In an attempt to slow the explosion, Mississippi has passed laws making it illegal to transport and sell wild pigs.
According to the MDWFP website, the importation of wild hogs into the state of Mississippi is prohibited. No person may transport on public roads or off the property of record where captured or relocate within the state any live feral hog, wild swine, or Russian Boar within the State of Mississippi, without first obtaining a Live Wild Hog Transportation Permit for each wild hog being transported. There is no restriction on the transportation of dead wild hogs.
A violation of this section, upon conviction, is punishable as a Class I violation. Any person who has been convicted of a Class I violation shall be fined not less than $2,000 and no more than $5,000 and shall be imprisoned in the county jail for five days. The person shall also forfeit all hunting, trapping, and fishing privileges for a period of not less than 12 consecutive months from the date of conviction.
The MDWFP continues: Wild hogs may not be transported within the State of Mississippi and released or removed alive from any mobile device or vehicle, except that wild hogs may be released alive for the purpose of slaughter into an enclosure no larger than 500 square feet in size and constructed in a manner that prevents the escape of any wild hog, or to a facility where the hog may be immediately prepared for slaughter. A violation of this section is a Class II violation, per each animal in violation, and punishable with a fine of not less than $100 nor more than $500, or imprisonment in county jail for not less than six months, or by both such fine and imprisonment. In addition to the penalties provided therein, upon conviction, the violator shall forfeit all hunting, trapping and fishing privileges for a period of one year from the date of conviction.
The MDWFP site also states that no meat or other part of a wild hog may be sold without having first been inspected and approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and/or the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce pursuant to the laws, rules, and regulations of those entities.