Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Not Even Pigs Can Withstand Big Coal

© 2008, 2009 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
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Wild Hogs Tough? Not Against Big Coal!

In my ongoing operation against Mountain Top Removal I have uncovered another example of the wanton disregard for the environment that the mining companies have.

In Baiting up Hogs, I gave instruction on methods used for attracting wild pigs. Hunter Angler of Jake’s Outdoors, said that there where very few wild hogs in his region. I went to his web site and saw that he hails from West Virginia. Hell I thought, there’s got to be a mess of razorbacks tearing up the mountains out there. Boy howdy, was I ever wrong.

I wanted to speak with some authority about his area of the country, and in researching through the data to answer his question I naturally started by searching the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources web site.

“Hunters killed 7 wild boar during the 2004 season. Archery hunters took 4 and firearms hunters killed 3. The entire harvest came from the same general area in Logan County.”

Seven? Total? For the year? Are they kidding me? I’ve killed seven just walking in an afternoon. OK, maybe I didn’t kill seven, but I sure saw a lot more than seven. Either those West Virginia mountain boys are really bad hunters, or something else is going on.

Biologists do not believe that boar hunting contributed to the population decline. Past seasons have been short and hunter participation restricted by permits.”

Ok, maybe they are so good that they just don’t get a long enough season to put a dent in the population. But there’s been a population decline?

“Wildlife Resources biologists conducted an extensive survey in February 2004 to confirm the presence or absence of wild boar…The survey indicated a much reduced boar population of probably fewer than 50 animals.”

Holy smokes! Less than fifty animals! I have raised wild hogs and let me tell you that three little pigs can turn into thirty-eight in nothing flat. I’m not kidding. In less than one year I had more than forty pigs. But that’s another story in and of itself. How could an area of four counties in beautiful, rugged, bountiful West Virginia have only FIFTY wild pigs in it?

“The main reason for the decline of wild boar in the four southern counties of Boone, Logan, Raleigh and Wyoming is habitat destruction resulting in poor reproduction and survival. Specifically mountain top mining and logging have eliminated much of the once mature oak forest that was favored by the boar.”

So there you have it; mountain top removal and logging are the shameless destroyers and despoilers of the land. How could I have missed it?

“Impacts of coal mining in the boar area account for significant losses of habitat in Casey Creek, Sycamore Creek, Jigley Fork and Skin Poplar Fork. During the last 6 years, 1999 – 2004, there are 14,424 acres under coal mining permits in Boone County and 4,946 acres in Logan County (WV Department of Environmental Protection). Clearly much of the ideal oak forest habitat favored by the wild boar has disappeared.”

“In the 1980's and early 1990's much of the boar area was mature oak forest. Since then accelerated commercial logging removed vast tracts of mast producing trees in main Spruce-Laurel Creek, Sycamore Creek, Dennison Fork, Jigley Fork and Skin Poplar Fork. In the past more than 75% of the boar harvest came from these areas.”

You see, Ol’ King Coal sold off all the marketable lumber before sending in the cranes and dozers, and blowing off the tops of the mountains. They are obviously unashamed of their wholesale destruction and they won’t leave a potential revenue stream untouched either.

“The demise of the wild boar population in West Virginia is certainly highly correlated with the destruction of the mature oak forest habitat favored by the species.”

If you go to the article where I found this information, they also mention the relatively low birth rate of the European Wild Boar. It appears that the hogs in West Virginia were originally stocked from a commercial operation. I have trapped high percentage European Wild Boar hogs here, and I have to disagree with the WV biologists on this:

“These individuals undoubtedly came from a few animals in Germany and were said to have originated in the Ural Mountains of Russia. This pure strain of wild boar seems to be less prolific and more habitat specific than the typical wild hogs of the south. They are certainly poor pioneering species. Their poor adaptability may in part be a result of a genetic bottleneck and the lack of genetic diversity in the population.”

I doubt the genetic bottle neck theory. Unless there was a specific set of negative genetic variables, it is unlikely that such a scenario occurred. I started with three pigs, two females and a male, brother and sisters, which reproduced at an alarming rate, with great viability in their offspring. I caught several high percentage European Wild Boars, and when I bred and crossbred them they demonstrated high fecundity and viability. So again, I’m not so sure that biological issues are the culprit to any great degree.

But, I will SHOUT LOUD AND CLEAR that Ol’ King Coal and mountain top removal are the main perpetrator of the demise of the wild hogs of West Virginia. The callus and reckless disregard for the environment and the people of the Appalachian regions shown by the mining companies is appalling. As I continue to work on this issue I beg you to frequent all of the hunting and fishing forums and tell everyone about the plight of the Appalachian Mountains. Remember that though it might not be in your backyard, something very much like it is probably happening somewhere nearby! When we are finished with Big Coal we’ll be coming to your backyard to help.

Here is a link to get you started: Stop MTR is Denny's blog and in my opinion probably one of the best centers for information on the destruction of the Appalachia.

As an outdoorsman, fisherman, and hunter I am aghast at the result of this abuse of the public trust. Though I am a capitalist through and through, and have absolutely no interest in any government intervention in my daily life, I am completely against this sort of wanton destruction of what should be in the public domain, though owned by private entities. The effects of mountain top removal are so widespread, that regardless of the specific location of destruction, the need for public intervention is apparent. For the coal companies to use an interpretation of the law to justify this abuse is not only unethical but immoral.

Get involved!

Albert A Rasch
The Hunt Continues…


NorCal Cazadora said...

It's hard to understand how mountain-top removal can still take place. Then again, I live in a region where you don't see a lot of coal-fired power plants, so maybe I'm lucky. But it sure makes ya wanna go out and get solar panels, doesn't it?

The Envirocapitalist said...

We have the same problem here in East Tennessee and we have coal fired power plants and we have greater than 10% Unemployment. It is a problem and the people speaking out against it here are called anti-job and environmental wacko's. Hopefully the State of Tennessee (My employer) will see the light and put a end to it soon.

Albert A Rasch said...

It is a very clean burning coal that we sell to the chinese for steel production. Don't let anyone tell you it's for energy needs, that would be pure, unadulterated bullshit.