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Hunter in helicopter will resolve Arizona’s wild pig problem

(AP File Photo)

PHOENIX — The wild pig population at Havasu National Wildlife Refuge along the Colorado River is going to be thinned over the next two weeks by a specially-trained shooter aboard a helicopter.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is bringing a hunter to reduce the number of the aggressive hogs, estimated to be anywhere from 100 to 1,000, roaming the river from Lake Havasu City into California.

Area hunters have complained about the plan because they wanted a chance at the property-destroying pigs. The animals have also charged people.

Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson said the specialist was a professional hunter, “who does it for a living in Texas.”

Safety is a big factor.

“That refuge is dense and hard to get through on the ground,” Johnson said. “It’s a marsh, it’s like the Everglades in Florida. People can go in and get lost. The problem you’d have with hunters on the ground is that they might go in and shoot one and the pigs scatter.

“The helicopter will be able to follow them and deal with more pigs.”

Another concern is that the feral swine carry diseases such as E.coli and Salmonella and they can pass it along to the public by touch.

“We’re also worried the pigs could get into our agricultural fields and pass the disease to the crops.”

U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) opposed “heli-hogging” because using local hunters would have saved the taxpayers money.

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