Targeting Feral Swine in Illinois: Part 4—Illinois Feral Swine Laws
Feral swine (wild pigs) are escaped animals from traditional hog operations, dumped pets, free-ranging practices and/or illegal releases. Feral swine negatively impact wildlife and wildlife habitat. These animals have a high reproductive potential and populations must be reduced by 70 percent each year simply to keep them from expanding.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) regulates the transport, release and harvest of feral swine. Specifically:
- Hunters may only shoot feral swine during the firearm, muzzleloader, late-winter and Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) deer seasons if the hunter possesses a valid permit. It is illegal to harvest feral swine outside of those dates unless the individual has been issued a Nuisance Wildlife Permit from a District Wildlife Biologist. Pigs are considered feral swine if they are unrestrained and have adapted to living in a wild or free-roaming environment. Hunters who mistakenly or purposely shoot a domestic pig or someone’s pet may be subject to civil and/or criminal charges.
- Hunter-killed feral swine must be reported to IDNR by contacting Doug Dufford, Wildlife Disease and Invasive Animals Program Manager, (815) 369-2414. Hunters may keep the legally harvested pigs.
- It is illegal to provide outfitting or guide services for feral swine hunting in Illinois.
- It is illegal to hunt feral swine in an enclosure.
- It is illegal to release, transport and/or possess feral swine.
IDNR and the U.S. Department of Agriculture—Wildlife Services recently have eliminated the known breeding populations of feral swine from the state. Successful deer and turkey hunters who check in their harvest will be asked to report the number of feral swine they observed during the hunting season in the county in which they hunted. These data will assist wildlife biologists determine where feral swine are located, and allow biologists to remove swine before extensive agricultural and environmental damage occurs.
To report feral swine, call the IDNR Division of Wildlife Resources at (815) 369-2414 or USDA-Wildlife Services at (866) 487-3297.
Mark Alessi is the Wildlife Chief in Illinois Department of Natural Resources.