Dog Hunting History

Sugar’s Hope understands the uphill battle of changing a law that allows animal abuse due to hunting traditions.  We also know there are many sources of income that come from the use of dogs to hunt hogs. States also make money from taxes and licences from the revenues generated. Further, rather than states directly dealing with the humane removal of wild hogs. they instead leave much of it to hunters and dogs to attempt managing hog overpopulation.

So When Did Hunting With Dogs Begin?

Hunting with dogs goes back to early European Royalty. Only the very rich were allowed to hunt with dogs, and the dogs were catered and groomed by servants and treated almost like royalty themselves. Wildlife was considered property of the king and anyone caught killing an animal would find their fate to be the same as the dead animal they just killed.

But once man occupied the colony (now know as the United States) all wildlife was considered open game for anyone wanting it. Now of course, the men that lived off the land more than likely owned a dog(s) and used them to assist them with their hunting.  A dog might chase a deer that was already shot or bowed to help the owner track it.  Ducks were retrieved, small game like rabbits & squirrels, fox or raccoons would be hunted with the dog(s).

However during those times, a dog was a lot more than just a hunter. He protected the family while the men were away, he warned of strangers or wild animals approaching. It was a playmate & protector for the little ones and so much more.  (OK, think “Ol Yeller” it was a story about a family dog that was more than just a worthless animal)

No moral man, would have treated his dog inhumane for the sake of “entertainment” and the thrill of a kill.  Nor would he risk his “best friend” to take down or kill an animal, like a wild hog, that was 4 or more times the dogs weight & size. Certainly there were life threatening situations, and many a dog were lost in the fight, however man needed his dog for so much more.

Later on there were also established group hunts where many dog owners would use dogs to hunt deer.  However the dogs became such a nuisance, that in 1738 the Virginia House passed a law, that required owners of deer dogs to keep their animal confined unless they were actually hunting.

Finally in 1876, Wisconsin was the first to ban the use of dog to hunt deer. In 1888 stick laws in the Adirondack forbid the use of dogs to hunt.  By 1920 all the the Northeastern states has outlawed the use of dogs for deer hunting.

As of 2010, 11 states ( 2 states California & Hawaii have no white tail deer population) so 9 states, still allow white tail deer hunting with dogs.  So the last use of dog-hunting for whitetails is found in just nine states that were once part of the Old Confederacy: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. Another former Confederate state, Texas, allowed dog-hunting until 1990, when it was banned due to a flood of complaints from landowners and non-hunters.

Deer hunters would be pleased to know that a poll taken in 2008 overwhelmingly supports the preservation of the American tradition of hunting wild game. Having said that, the same poll showed that support for using dogs to hunt is record low.

There is a stark difference between the use of dogs to hunt deer and wild hogs. While still inhumane for both animals involved, deer run quickly and in groups, the dogs are used to run the deer to tired them out and to corral. The dog isn’t taught to bring the deer to the ground by biting their bodies or face. A dog might be injured by the horns of a deer, but it is difficult for a deer to lower his rack of horns in that manner for too long.  A deer is more likely to run than fight. Another concern is a dog getting lost and left behind to starve and died. Yet only 9 states allow for dogs to hunt deer. However sadly, while the laws in each state specifically state that dogs cannot be used in hunting white tailed deer in the wild, they don’t generalize the use of dogs to hunt large game.

How Did Wild Pigs Get to America?

Wild pigs (also known as wild hogs, wild boar, or feral swine) are not native to America. Domesticated pigs were first introduced in the 1500’s to what is now the southeastern U.S. by Spanish Explorers.  Then European Settlers brought pig livestock to farm and were kept in enclosed areas and grazed the land. Some would wander away and slowly a population of wild pigs evolved.

It wasn’t until the early 1900’s that the Eurasian wild boar were introduced into parts of the United States for the purpose of hunting. Nature took it course and the mix of domestic pigs and Eurasian wild boar were created and are now found in the wild in 45 of the US States. Today, many hybrid populations exist throughout the wild.

There are very limited laws on the use of dogs for wild hog hunting. Yet, Hog hunting is 10 times more dangerous than hunting deer. Wild hog hunting is often used as a source of entertainment and many dogs are inhumanly care for and given no professional medical care.

Sugar’s Hope goal is to raise awareness and to change the laws in each state that allows for this cruel behavior.

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The Dog-Hunting Debate

History of Wild Pig