By Brandon Moseley
February 28, 2017 the Alabama House of Representatives voted to approve allowing hunters to buy a license to hunt deer and hogs on baited ground. House Bill 184 was sponsored by state Representative Jack W. Williams (R from Wilmer).
Rep. Williams said that HB 184 would provide for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resource to sell a $15 license allowing hunter to hunt deer and hogs over bait.
Rep. Artis “A.J.” McCampbell (D from Demopolis) said, “I understand that we have a feral hog issue in the state of Alabama. We really need to rid the state of this menace but we can do that without adding whitetail deer being added.” “You and I know that if there are deer eating and a hog comes along the deer leave. Once one of them come up you don’t have a deer problem any more.” “This does nothing for the sport of hunting.”
Rep. Williams said that he has a feed store and 85 percent of the deer hunters feed now. This will bring in $1.5 to $2 million a year. The Department of Conservation will be able to hire more game wardens. We only have 122 game wardens in the whole state. That is less than Florida. That is less than every neighboring state including Mississippi.
State Representative Elaine Beech (D from Chathom) said, “I live in an area where there are more deer than people.” I spend money every year replanting shrubbery because the deer are eating the shrubbery at my house. The deer eat farmer’s crops and they eat pine seedlings. They are a pest.
Rep. McCampbell said, “I don’t even hunt right now because there are no sport in it. I quit hunting when they started planting the green fields.” “I think we should let the environmentalists make these decisions.”
Rep. McCampbell suggested, “Why don’t we just make it for feral swine?” People are breaking the law now. We are trying to change our law to appease people. This does not teach any hunting skills. We do have a feral swine problem in this state.
Rep. Williams said that there is no way for game wardens to know if you were hunting deer or hogs if they catch you hunting in a baited field. The state could lose as much as $158,000 in fine revenue a year that DCNR collects on fining people found guilty of hunting over bait; but will make $1.5 to $2 million in new license sales.
State Representative Thomas Jackson (D from Thomasville) said, When I was a boy we had deer drives. They stopped that and started hunting with dogs. Then we outlawed that. I know we are fighting a losing battle but we have better things we can be doing with our time. We are setting a bad precedent. Next they will be hunting with drones. You can mount an AR-15 on a drone and do some damage.”
State Representative John Rogers (D from Birmingham) said, “I am going to have to do some stalling because I can’t get a bill out of committee. I want everybody to know John Rogers can not get a bill out of committee I am telling everybody in Jefferson County that there is a vendetta against John Rogers.”
State Representative David Sessions (R from Grand Bay) said that the game wardens should be focusing their time chasing poachers, trespassers, and fence cutters not people who are feeding deer to manage their deer herd. There is not difference between putting out a corn pile and planting a green field. Texas has had to adopt drastic measures of allowing pesticides to kill hogs. That is the first state to allow poisoning of a wild animal
State Representative Arnold Mooney (R from Indian Springs) said that wild hogs do $800 million a year in damage in Alabama. They reproduce like rabbits. We can save $800 million a year by controlling the wild hog menace. Wild hogs are a problem in most Alabama counties and 37 states. I support this bill.
Rep. Williams said that the hog problem in Texas is so bad that they are hunting them from out of helicopters.
HB184 passed with bipartisan support 69 to 18.
The bill now goes to the Senate.