The Missouri Department of Conservation is proposing allowing thermal imaging and night vision to help landowners control nuisance wildlife and invasive species on their private properties.

Aaron Jeffries, deputy director, said the department is considering changing regulations to help landowners address damage caused by problem wildlife and feral hogs.

The agency is proposing the changes in response to citizen requests to the Regulations Committee to use night vision or thermal imagery to address livestock loss caused by coyotes and damage caused by feral hogs.

“Landowners can currently use thermal imaging on their property for feral hogs,” Jeffries said. “This proposal would expand this to allow landowners or a landowner representative to use this technology in the case of coyotes or deer. It would also allow a landowner representative to use it on feral hogs with permission from an agent.”

The department emphasizes that the landowner or landowner representatives would be required to obtain written authorization from their local conservation agent to use thermal imaging or night vision equipment to control problem wildlife.

Sections of this rule already allow a conservation agent to authorize additional methods to control deer and other wildlife that are damaging private property.

He said the proposed regulation would allow a conservation agent to authorize methods other than shooting or trapping, such as thermal imaging, for taking wildlife that are causing damage to private property.

The conservation department reminds outdoorsmen that possession of thermal imaging or night vision equipment while in possession of a firearm, bow, or other method where wildlife could be harvested is prohibited, except when permitted by a conservation agent or when a landowner is controlling feral hogs on their own property.

According to the conservation department, feral hogs are an invasive species that cause millions of dollars in agricultural and property damage as well as harm native wildlife.

If approved, the anticipated effective date of the changes would be Feb. 29, 2020.

The department has banned hunting of feral hogs on all lands owned, managed or leased by the department. Hog hunting on private lands, though discouraged, is permitted.

The Missouri Conservation Commission gave initial approval on the proposed regulation changes during its Aug. 23 meeting.

As part of the rulemaking process, the department is asking for public comment through Oct. 31 online at http://short.mdc.mo.gov/Z49.

The Commission will then consider input received and make a final decision on the changes during its Dec. 13 meeting.

Margaret Slayton can be reached

at margaret.slayton@newspressnow.com.