[StBernard] Wild hogs damaging St. Bernard levee

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Tue Jan 27 21:59:39 EST 2009

Wild hogs damaging St. Bernard levee

10:52 AM CST on Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Mike Hoss / Eyewitness News

ST. BERNARD, La. -- There is a levee in St. Bernard Parish along the 40
Arpent Canal that is chewed up and gashed, the grass dug away for 40 or 50

It's a problem Lake Borgne levee officials have dealt with many times. But
when they came out to fix the levee, just 200 yards away, they found new
damage: it was fresh and worse. Several holes more than a foot deep and
entire swaths of the levee are without grass.

The culprits? Wild hogs.

The packs of hogs, which come out mostly at night, dig into the levee
looking for roots or grub worms.

"They can do significant damage to a levee," said Bob Turner, director of
the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority. "I've seen it overnight
where they've rutted up 100 feet of levee."

The grass is all the armoring these levees have, and when it's ripped away
in big areas, rain can then wash more of the unprotected dirt off the slope.
That can leave the levee unstable.

When they find damage, levee officials bring out the heavy machinery, smooth
out the area and replant the grass. It's a process they'll have to repeat
several times a month.

The issue of wild hogs ripping up a levee is not new, and that's the
problem: it remains an issue, because it's just a tough battle to win.

"It's not a problem you can solve directly with money, because they're just
so many thousands that are out there," Turner said. "Even if you take 20
percent, 30 percent, 40 percent of the population out, within a couple of
years they'll come right back."

Turner says they can only trap hogs near the levee, because they generally
don't own the land beside it.

"And the people that do often times have hunting clubs or leases, so they
want to let people hunt those," Turner said.

The storm decimated the wild hog population, but one female can produce 14
young each year. Post-Katrina, there are less hunters out there. Turner says
there are more now than before the storm.

It's a battle they'll continue to fight, but one they don't expect to win.

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