Ohio House Passed Bills OKing Feral Pig Open Season

Lawmakers also introduced another bill to help pregnant women and babies

Jun 14, 2024 at 10:34 am
Wild boar
Wild boar Photo: Public Domain

The Ohio House passed more than a dozen bills during Wednesday’s session — ranging from one that allows people to shoot feral pigs to another that provides supports during pregnancy and the first 1,000 days of life. 

Infant mortality

State Reps. Andrea White, R-Kettering, and Latyna Humphrey, D-Columbus, introduced House Bill 7 last year and the bipartisan bill passed the Ohio House with a 72-20 vote during Wednesday’s session. 

The bill has provisions to support doula services, pregnancy and postpartum individuals, children and families in poverty, early intervention, child care, a cost savings study for the Medicaid program and the Head Start Program.

“HB 7 will appropriate about $35 million over fiscal year 2024-25 to cover several crucial areas including addressing maternal mortality rate, improving health outcomes, enhancing mental health supports and strengthening pre- and post-natal health care access, and strengthening support programs for underserved communities,”  Humphrey said.  

Ohio ranked 44th in the nation for infant mortality and 31st for infant maltreatment. One in 150 Ohio babies don’t live to celebrate their first birthday and 2,000 infants and toddlers are in foster care, White said. 

“It’s really a problem that affects all of our communities,” White said. “And that’s why the solutions in this bill will reach people of all income levels. … Infant maternal mortality does not discriminate based on where you live (and) how much money you earn.”

Ohio’s overall infant mortality rate was 7.0 in 2021, according to the Ohio Department of Health’s most recent report. Breaking it down by race, the infant mortality rate was 14.2 for Black babies and 5.4 for white babies.

Feral pigs

The House also unanimously passed a bill with 90 votes that would declare open season for feral pigs, prohibit feeding any garbage to pigs and bans bringing any hogs into Ohio that have been fed garbage.

Reps. Bob Peterson, R-Sabina, and Don Jones, R-Freeport, introduced House Bill 503 in April. 

“It’s not Porky Pig,” Peterson said during Wednesday’s session. “It’s not the pigs you see at the fair. These are mean, wild and destructive animals that need to be eradicated.” 

Feral pigs are a threat to Ohio’s pork economy, are a nuisance to landowners and carry various diseases, Peterson and Jones said during their sponsor testimony to the Ohio House Agriculture Committee in May.

Feral swine — which are in Adams, Athens, Gallia, Hocking, Jackson, Lawrence, Scioto and Vinton counties — could cost Ohio around $2.5 billion in damages per year to crops, natural vegetation and water and soil, Peterson said. 

“Swine are an invasive species that can cause billions of dollars of property damage (and) cost the taxpayers much money to eradicate if they become an issue,” Jones said.  

HB 503 would allow people to shoot feral pigs on someone’s property without a hunting license as long as they alert the state officials within 24 hours. It would also require someone to report a feral pig sighting to state officials within 24 hours. 

The bill bans people from feeding feral swine as well as importing, transporting or releasing feral swine into the wild. Garbage feeding pigs can attract and sustain a feral pig population, Jones said. 

Under the bill, the Ohio Department of Agriculture can investigate tips that pigs are being fed garbage and fine someone $500 and up to $1,000 if it continues to happen. 

HB 503 would get rid of a current state license that allows for garbage feeding swine, but not one currently holds one. 

States like Texas — where more than 2,400 feral pigs were reported last year — have had serious issues with feral pigs and they have a $321 billion budget just for feral swine mitigation, Jones said.  

The bills will now head to the Ohio Senate for further consideration. 

This story was originally published by the Ohio Capital Journal and republished here with permission.