Ada — To the Editor:
Do you believe you have the right to protect your property? We assumed we had the right to protect our property and our financial well-being, but according to the Department of Wildlife in Oklahoma, we do not. We are saddened and irritated by the fact that our government has such control over our everyday livelihood. We know that ignorance of the law is not an excuse, but we wonder how many other farmers and landowners in our area are not aware of the current laws concerning feral hogs.
On Nov. 27, 2013, our son-in-law and daughter drove in from Vega, Texas. As they were driving up our driveway, they saw 30-40 feral hogs rooting around our pecan trees. We harvest our pecans to sell each year. We told our son-in-law that we should get flashlights and see if we could get them out of the pasture. When we got back to the area where they saw them, they were gone.
Our son-in-law’s brother, sister-in-law, and nephew arrived Nov. 28 night from Paris, Texas. We asked them if they would kill off any of the hogs since they are nocturnal. The brother’s son is 15. They asked him to go along as a lesson in the behaviors of feral hogs. We would like to add that it is legal to hunt feral hogs at night in Texas. They didn’t end up seeing any hogs that night.
We respect wildlife and would only kill because of nuisance, our protection, or food. Feral hogs are a nuisance animal that carry diseases, are aggressive, and destroy our property. We should be able to protect our cattle, our pastureland that we cut for hay to feed our cattle, and our pecan crop.
On the night of Nov. 29, our son-in-law, his brother, and nephew went out once again to see if they could kill off any of the hogs. It is difficult for us to do because my husband is almost 80 years old and I work as an RN. They were trying to help us protect our land. They only ended up shooting horse apples that night.
We were at the house when we saw the game warden following them up the driveway. We went out to meet them to see what was wrong. We assumed we were only going to have to clarify that they had permission to be on our property hunting feral hogs. The next 45 minutes were just surreal. We were made to feel like criminals that had maliciously broken the law.
As we were trying to explain the feral hog problem to the game warden, three more patrol cars came swarming in as if we were holding a hostage! We’re still not sure why so much back-up was called.
When the game warden asked them what they were doing, they were truthful. They showed the warden the horse apples they had shot because he told them he did not believe the story they were telling him. He searched the area; no animals had been killed. Their story checked out. The warden acknowledged that hogs were a problem. He then (in our opinion) sarcastically and arrogantly boasted that it would have been okay to kill hogs if we had obtained a permit from him.
We asked if we were going to receive a ticket or a warning. He said he was going to give my son-in-law and his brother a ticket because they both admitted to shooting at horse apples. With sarcasm in his voice, he said, “It’s only a $446 ticket for each of them.”
We were upset that our family was being treated like poachers. We told him how upset we were at how he was treating us and were shocked that we needed a permit to protect our property. We don’t think it was a good lesson for a 15-year old to witness. He was frightened by the swarm of police officers and stated later that perhaps they should have ran into the thicket or just lied to the warden. Of course, we told him it’s always good to be honest.
When did we lose our right to protect our land and financial well-being? Several states allow hunting nuisance animals, such as feral hogs, during the day or night without a permit or license. Why is Oklahoma not allowing the same? The Oklahoma Wildlife Department acknowledges that feral hogs are a problem in all 77 counties. We think it’s time to update the law.
James and Karen Dowley