Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Night 29° Partly Cloudy
Sports >  Outdoors

Feral pig extermination prompts wildlife area closure

Feral pigs are destructive to wildlife habitat and agricultural fields if left unchecked. A month-long government effort to eliminate feral pigs in Grant County has prompted the closure of a two-square-mile area of public land west of Moses Lake. (Courtesy of Idaho Fish & Game)
Feral pigs are destructive to wildlife habitat and agricultural fields if left unchecked. A month-long government effort to eliminate feral pigs in Grant County has prompted the closure of a two-square-mile area of public land west of Moses Lake. (Courtesy of Idaho Fish & Game)

A month-long government effort to eliminate feral pigs in Grant County has prompted the closure of a two-square-mile area of public land west of Moses Lake.

USDA Wildlife Services, in cooperation with the state, will be using helicopter gunners in an attempt to kill feral pigs that would be destructive to wildlife habitat and nearby agricultural fields if left unchecked, said Rich Finger, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife wildlife biologist in Ephrata.

“The way they forage results in a lot of ground disturbance, habitat damage and introduction of invasive weeds,” he said.

The closure started on Feb. 23 and runs through March 31. It covers two sections of the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area’s Desert Unit north of the Winchester Wasteway and east of Dodson Road.

At least five feral pigs have been killed, including some by department staff, since first confirmed in the area in August, he said.

“The public also may have killed some we don’t know about since feral pigs are not a protected species. Only a few might be left.”

The source of the pigs is undetermined, he said.

The closure is necessary for public safety and to keep people from unintentionally interfering with the effort.

“We need to determine the pigs’ movements and the patterns aren’t predictable if they are being disturbed,” Finger said. “It’s also a public safety issue if (the agents) start flying and shooting.”

The closure is likely to impact only a few coyote hunters and anglers who might be hiking into some of the area’s ponds, he said. The Winchester Wasteway itself will still be open for use at this point, he said.

“Even if we think we have killed all of the pigs, we’ll use the entire month of March to do surveillance and make sure we’ve mopped them all up,” he said. “We don’t want to miss any of them.”

Feral pigs are prolific and capable of having multiple litters each year, he said.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the sports newsletter

Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.