Thursday, the Alabama House of Representatives passed a bill that would allow hunters to purchase a special license from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources so that they can shoot feral hogs and whitetail deer over bait.
State Representative Danny Crawford, R-Athens, sponsored House Bill 97.
Alabama has a major problem with a growing herd of feral swine. Hunters and wildlife managers argue that they need to be able to bait the hogs in order to control the swine population.
State Representative Artis A.J. McCampbell, D-Livingston, opposed the bill.
“I believe in fair chase,” McCampbell said. I grew up hunting. “Several years ago, I bought some real nice climbing stands and planted nice green fields. I lost my zeal for hunting, due to the new way of hunting.”
“If you plant green fields you draw deer there, but it is a natural habitat,” McCampbell said. “When you lay corn on the ground or spread corn you are inviting deer.”
McCampbell admits that the state does have a major feral hog problem.
“I got out of farming because of the feral hogs,” McCampbell said. “I had a farm on the Sipsey River. We planted those fields for about three years and did not harvest anything because of the hogs. Now we have things we grow they call trees.”
Crawford said that this license is, “An opportunity.” Buying this license is also an “insurance policy, if you have a neighbor who put corn.”
Under current law it is permissable to put out bait for deer or hogs; but you can’t hunt within 100 yards of bait or within line of sight of the bait. Persons who purchase the new license would be exempted from the current law, which would remains in force for persons without the special baiting license.
Crawford said, “Buying this license provides revenue for the Department and is a tool for managing CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease), which is now confirmed in both Tennessee and Mississippi.
McCampbell said, “This is not hunting. This is not teaching a skill. This is teaching people to be ambushers.”
State Representative Reed Ingram, R-Montgomery, said that the bill, “Is going to be good for conservation and good for tourism.”
State Representative John Rogers, D-Birmingham, said, “We have got wild pigs running wild in Birmingham. We have got pigs everywhere.”
State Representative Harry Shiver, R-Bay Minette, said, “We have got to eradicate the hogs.”
“I can hear them behind my house,” Shiver said. “We are going to get rid of them. I know how to hunt.”
State Representative Brett Easterbrook, R-Deerpark, owns a deer farm.
“Hunting is defined by the hunter,” Easterbrook said. “Most of our predators ambush the animals,”
“Most states allow baiting,” Easterbrook said. “Most of the state has been baited, now there is going to be corn on every ridge.”
McCampbell said, “It is making people lazy.”
“Yes, it is big business in Alabama; but I still don’t agree with that,” McCampbell said. “I saw a herd of deer laying out in a field in one of those high fence areas. We have domesticated the deer.”
State Representative Pebblin Warren, D-Tuskegee, said, “I feed my deer; but I don’t hunt them. If you don’t hunt them they will come right up to you.”
HB 97 passed the House 85 to 10.
It now goes to the Senate.