The eventful evening also saw an announcement of a new Natural Resources Conservation Service district conservationist for Meigs County, and a visit by David Hanselmann, chief of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ divisions of Soil and Water Resources and Recycling and Litter Prevention.
Craig Hicks, a wildlife disease biologist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Wildlife Services in Reynoldsburg was the guest speaker for the event which was attended by approximately 145 people. One of Hicks’ primary responsibilities is coordinating feral swine disease surveillance throughout Ohio and in other states.
Feral swine are known by several names including wild hogs, wild pigs or boars, and are very adaptable animals, he explained. In the southern states feral swine tend to be swamp dwellers but in Ohio they prefer the high, forested ground while using the occasional creek or low area for wallows.
Feral swine have very few natural predators but are very wary of humans, comparable to late-season whitetail deer, Hicks said.
Hicks’ presentation included a map of Ohio showing outlines of the state’s counties, highlighted by colors showing where feral swine have been documented or have established populations. All of the counties surrounding Meigs have populations of feral swine; Meigs County is conspicuously different with no confirmed sightings.
“(Feral swine in Ohio) are not a good thing, they cannot be accepted in our state,” he said, stating that they have been compared to “living rototillers.”
Their impact on agricultural production through the destruction of crops and the possibility of disease, the destruction of native ecosystems, wildlife and water quality means they cannot be tolerated in Ohio.
Although a recent television documentary raised the specter of “super hogs,” crosses between domestic hogs and wild boars weighing three-quarters of a ton or more and preying on humans and pets, Hicks stressed there is no need for people to panic about their personal safety.
“I have seen more credible documentaries about sasquatch,” he said.
They are still prey animals, he said, noting however that any animal will fight if backed into a corner.
Anyone finding feral swine in the county can contact Hicks through the Meigs County Wildlife Officer or Meigs SWCD Wildlife Specialist, or report sightings toll-free at 1-866-4USDAWS. Hicks can assist landowners in trapping the animals and he takes samples of their blood for disease analysis. More information about the Ohio Feral Swine Disease Surveillance Program is available at the Meigs SWCD office at 33101 Hiland Road, Pomeroy.
Curt Cline, Albany, was named Meigs SWCD Outstanding Cooperator for 2010.
Cline was introduced by Jason Crislip, former Meigs County district conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Cline installed numerous conservation practices at his sheep farm in Meigs County including the construction of new fencing, watering sources and pasturing systems in cooperation with the federal Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
Cline, who is a member of the SWCD Board of Supervisors in Athens County, stressed the word “cooperator” in his comments. It takes a team between the farmer and the agencies to make the programs work, and a further partnership between the local, state and federal officials to make the funding available for the programs.
Patrick Saunders of Farm Credit Services of Mid-America presented Cline and his family with the outstanding cooperator sign. The outstanding cooperator program is sponsored in part by Farm Credit Services.
Bill Baer, Racine, was reelected to another three-year term commencing Jan. 1, 2011 on the Meigs SWCD Board of Supervisors. He has been an SWCD supervisor for the past nine years.
He was opposed by Pageville-area resident and farmer John Tillis.
Meigs SWCD, established in 1943 is a legal subdivision of state government that provides natural resource management assistance to county landowners and other units of local government. The district is funded by the Meigs County Board of Commissioners, and county funds are supplemented by funding from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The district is governed by a five-member board of county residents. Board members serve staggered three-year terms.
Each year the Meigs Soil and Water Conservation District sponsors a county-wide soil judging contest for Vocational Agriculture students. This year’s contest was held in Gallia County in conjunction with the Athens and Gallia SWCDs.
Students from Meigs and Southern Vocational Agricultural Departments participated in the contest. Meigs had 78 students participate; 7 in Urban and 71 in Agricultural. Southern had 23 students participate; 6 in Urban and 17 Agricultural.
High scoring individuals in the Agricultural Judging contest were, in order: Shawn Bare, Rocco Casci, and Devan Cundiff, all from Meigs. Meigs also had the top scoring Agricultural team consisting of Shawn Bare, Rocco Casci, Devan Cundiff, and Breanna Snowden.
High scoring individuals in the Urban judging contest were, in order: Tiffany Cundiff and Christa Berryman, from Southern and Michael Satterfield, from Meigs. The top scoring Urban team was from Southern and included Tiffany Cundiff, Christa Berryman, Clayton Moore, and Bethany Ferrell.
A plaque was presented to Roy Holter, winner of class two in the Meigs County Fair Hay Show. Wes Karr was the winner of class one. Dianna Windon was the winner of the class three.
Dave Enterline, Middleport, was named the 2010 Leading Creek Watershed Volunteer of the Year. Enterline, a retired professor of natural resources from Hocking College, has been a regular participant in annual Leading Creek Stream Sweeps since the event’s inception in 2001, and also volunteers for other watershed events including Watershed Day Camp. He was presented a certificate and gift card by Meigs SWCD Leading Creek Watershed Coordinator Raina Fulks.
Doug Pauley, Ohio Area 5 conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, announced that Carrie Crislip would be the new NRCS district conservationist for Meigs County effective Oct. 25. Crislip is a 2004 graduate of West Virginia University with a master’s degree in agriculture, forestry and consumer sciences and is currently employed by the NRCS as a soil conservationist in Jackson County, W.Va. She replaces her husband, Jason, who recently transferred to Wood County, W.Va.
Also attending the meeting was David Hanselmann, chief of both the Ohio Division of Soil and Water Resources, and Division of Recycling and Litter Prevention, who briefly spoke on the nature of Soil and Water Conservation Districts throughout the state, and of the importance of local financial support for districts, which is matched by the state and aids in assisting local farmers and other landowners.
Jim Freeman, Meigs SWCD wildlife specialist, announced that the district would begin construction next month on a 30-by-56-foot shelter at the Meigs SWCD Conservation Area located on New Lima Road between Rutland and Harrisonville. The district purchased the 174-acre Conservation Area in 2003 through the Clean Ohio program and it is regularly used for educational and other programs.