Monday, February 22, 2010

Helicopter warfare: Feral hogs in their sights

Early on a cold morning in northern Haskell County, two helicopters set off to find feral hogs. Next to the pilot in each two-seater helicopter is a gunner, armed with an assortment of laser-sighted rifles and shotguns to shoot the hogs they find. When a sounder — or group of hogs — is spotted, the pilot follows the fleeing hogs, which can run as fast as 30 miles per hour. The hogs generally run in a straight line, allowing the gunman to pick them off one by one from the helicopter flying only about 20 feet above the ground. Feral hogs have caused so much land and crop damage that Haskell County farmers turned to aerial management as the best way to effectively bring down their population. Over three days last week, about 300 hogs were killed by the hunters in the helicopters. Previously, the hunters reported, they killed as many as 125 in one hour in Haskell County. But there are still thousands more hogs in the area — and millions in the more

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