Drones were in the news last week after a Dec. 1 60 Minutes report on Amazon.com's plan to use drones to deliver packages — but a more interesting and less speculative use for the unmanned flying vehicles appeared in The Economist: the use of drones to eradicate feral hogs. A group called Louisiana Hog Control is using drones with heat-seeking cameras and laser pointers to pinpoint the location of wild pigs, which are then shot on the ground by hunters. The group's slogan: "We Fly — Pigs Die."
The drones, which are called Dehogifliers, have come under fire by some environmentalists. The state of Colorado is considering a ban on "the use of drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) as an aid in scouting, hunting and taking of wildlife." In Louisiana, however, hogs are not protected game; unlike many other wild animals, state law allows them to be "taken year-round during legal daylight shooting hours by holders of a valid hunting license," according to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries, which classifies them as "outlaw quadrupeds."
In 2011, the state amended the law against outlaw quadrupeds, allowing night hunting "with or without the aid of artificial light, infrared or laser sighting devices, or night vision devices." That law was passed because hogs are blamed for destroying crops, wetlands, levees and beneficial wildlife, and they breed quickly, presenting a problem for farmers and rural landowners, particularly in Texas and Louisiana.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department estimates there are 1.5 million feral hogs in Texas, and they're an increasing problem in southeast Louisiana parishes as well — including Orleans Parish. Last month, WWL-TV broadcast video of feral hogs running through the New Orleans City Park golf course.