TYLERTOWN, Miss. (AP) — Ever heard of a hog-dog rodeo?
The attraction, and hog hunting, are popular activities in Mississippi and Louisiana — and apparently lucrative ones as well.
Authorities caught four people illegally trapping and selling wild hogs last month, Maj. Lane Ball, of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, said Tuesday.
In a hog-dog rodeo, a dog seeks to control a hog by barking and confronting it. Some people also buy wild hogs to train their hunting dogs — to hunt other wild hogs.
"Hog hunting is a big deal," Ball said. "It's a very popular sport."
The department cited the four on March 29, when officers raided a location in southern Walthall County that had once been used as a hog-dog rodeo arena and found seven hogs, Ball said.
Christopher Miley and Mandy Miley, both 40-year-old residents of Franklinton, Louisiana, are charged with illegally importing, transporting and selling wild hogs, and trapping without a license.
Their daughter, 19-year-old Sierra Miley of Tylertown, is charged with illegally selling wild hogs, as is 22-year-old Bethanie Toothman of Sulphur, Louisiana.
The elder Mileys were arrested and are free on $1,500 bail. While potential jail terms are short for the misdemeanors, fines could be as high as $10,100 per pig.
All four are scheduled to answer the charges April 27 in Walthall County Justice Court. None has an attorney listed in court records.
Ball said the four were trapping hogs and selling them to people in Louisiana and Mississippi, charging as little as $50 apiece for young pigs, but more for older ones.
The state has made it illegal to bring hogs into Mississippi or move them without a permit because they are animals that cause widespread damage and carry diseases.
"They mess up everything from yards to food plots to timber, pine tree plantations," Ball said. "They're a huge problem."
Those who are given legal permission to transport hogs must enclose them in escape-proof pens of less than 500 square feet (46 sq. meters), and only to fatten them for slaughter.
Ball said the department is still investigating who bought the illegally trapped hogs. They could also face charges, he said.