MISSOURI — In recent decades, Missouri has seen an increase in the armadillo population and they continue to migrate further north.
The once rare population has now become a nuisance species in some areas because of the amount of damage they cause to lawns and gardens.
KMZU’s Dan Watson talked with Kurt Heisler, a Conservation Agent with the Missouri Department of Conservation, about ways to help control local armadillo populations, possible hunting regulations and what to do if one is encountered in a yard or garden.
Click below to listen to their conversation, which aired Tuesday on KMZU.
Armadillos are in a constant search for food and will not rest until they find it, no matter where it is.
“Some of the behaviors of armadillos are they move day and night,” Heisler said, “an they’re looking in search for grubs, beetles, insects and it doesn’t matter whether its in your yard, in your garden, in your flower bed or actually out in the woods.”
Digging through yards, gardens and properties means that many Missourians consider the armadillo to be a pest.
“They are a nuisance because they’re tearing up your yard,” Heisler stated, “they burrow into the ground and they have holes in the ground. They do a lot of damage, they’re fast diggers and if you see anything in your yard that is torn up, its armadillo no doubt.”
In Missouri, there is not an established season for hunting armadillos. According to Heisler, they are not a protected species and therefore it is legal to hunt and trap them year round. However, it is strongly advised to visit a local MDC office for any additional regulations prior to hunting armadillo.
Armadillos are known to carry many types of bacteria, including one that can cause leprosy. If a hunter does harvest one, Heisler advises that the carcass be left where the animal it fell unless absolutely necessary.
“I would leave them laying, I wouldn’t touch them. Its not a rumor and I think its confirmed that they do carry leprosy, so if you do have to remove one, use gloves.”
Heisler states that there is no immediate or obvious benefit to having armadillos in the local ecosystem. He also encourages landowners to find alternate methods to control grubs and insects.
“There are not benefits in my opinion in having them,” Heisler stated, “if you want an animal to get your grubs, insects out of your yard, that’s fine, but myself, I would buy some type of granule to spread in the yard.”