By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Wednesday, the House Agriculture and Forestry Committee issued a favorable report to House Bill 21, which would authorize the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to sell a special license to Alabama hunters so that they can kill hogs and deer over bait.
House Bill 21 is sponsored by State Rep. Jack W. Williams, R-Wilmer. Williams said that for a $15 fee licensed hunters would be allowed to hunt over bait for feral hogs and deer.
“In my area feral hogs are a serious problem,” Williams said.
In may area, 100 yards is out of sight for hogs
“Rep. Williams you and I have met on this a number of times and you have not convinced me that this is a good idea; and I have not convinced you that this is not a good idea,” state Rep. Artis McCampbell, D-Livingston, said.
“In my area we do have feral hogs and they are running rampant all across the state,” McCampbell said. “Anything we can do for the hogs we need to consider. My only problem is the taking of the deer over bait. This is not hunting, that is literally killing. We are not teaching a sport that is just hitting a target. That is always going to be my objection.”
Committee Chairman David Sessions, R-Grand Bay, said, “Feral swine is an epidemic across this state and this nation and it is costing us billions. We need to eradicate feral swine.”
“I have one 350 acre farm where we have already killed 400 hogs and my neighbor has killed over 300, that’s 700 hogs taken and we still have a hog problem,” Sessions said. ‘
Some states have already approved poison to kill hogs; but the poison will kill raccoons. Australia approved the poison, and they did not care what they killed because the feral swine had gotten to be such a problem there.
“The deer population is out of control as well,” state Rep. Richard Lindsey, D-Centre, said. “I am surprised that the insurance industry is not here as well.” They have caused an increasing number of car wrecks.
The representative of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources said, “The department is against the bill on the fair chase aspect of hunting. We have looked at the bill and made it as clean as possible; but remain opposed on the grounds of fair chase.”
Rep. Williams said that, “the estimates are that the new fees will generate between $750,000 and $1 million. My estimate is over a million. That is more than the $448,000 a year in fines they write for hunting over bait now.”
“We would not say the state was overpopulated deer,” ADC&NR’s spokesman said. “We thought the 100 yards agreement two years ago was a fair compromise.” He said that if they did receive the extra revenue, they could use it to draw down more federal funds on a three to one match.
Rep. Williams said, “We have got so many hogs on our property that they rooted up a half of a 12 acre food plot. We are in a state of emergency in our area.”
State Representative Bob Fincher, R-Woodland, said, “Shoot all the feral hogs you want, I have a problem putting the deer in with the hogs. I am an old hunter. We are forgetting everything we used to do. It is not hunting.”
Hanes said, “You are regulating the kill already by limiting hunters to just three bucks a year. I am not going to hunt over it; but as long as the state is regulating the kill, you are not going to hurt the herd.”
The Alabama Political Reporter asked Rep. Williams if all the people feeding the deer, whether they hunt over it or not, is contributing to the hog overpopulation problem?
Williams said, “Not at all. We all have crops, so there is no shortage of feed for the hogs.”
HB21 was given a favorable report, even though some members led by McCampbell opposed that motion.