Feral Hikers Getting Wilder

Hikers who have reverted to a wild state are putting extra burdens on state lands, forest managers say.

Feral hikers have long been a problem in Missouri, but their numbers are increasing as more and more people go into the woods without a compass, become hopelessly lost and are forced to adapt to forest living.

Attempts to eradicate the hikers have failed, largely due to their mobility and savviness. "They garland our snares with wildflowers," a researcher said.

More lethal methods of control have been opposed by sympathizers, who insist the feral hikers have become an essential component of Missouri forests.

"I like knowing wild things still exist in today's world," said a Moberly native.

Forest managers claim the feral hikers present a control problem. "We already know that they are reproducing out there, and it's possible they could hybridize with other species," a biologist said.

"And feral hikers walk full time, using up the environment day after day. Compare that to the normal recreationist, who only gets out on the odd weekend. That's disproportionate use."

"We just want to monitor this group," he said, "and, if possible, tax them."


Read some more at the Outdoor Tattler by Tom Cwynar

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