The town of Anahuac, in nearby Chambers County, is overrun with wild pigs whose elusiveness, appetite, and sheer numbers are causing havoc for all.
By day, these hogs usually keep out of sight in the Houston area's backwoods and bayous. But later, using the cover of darkness, herds of them make regular raids into populated areas where they cause mayhem and destruction, authorities say.
Homeowners, such as those in Chambers County, have awakened many mornings to find their neatly manicured yards and gardens looking more like minefields after an army of hogs has foraged there.
These marauding packs use their long snouts to uproot or plow the ground in their food quest. Hogs are omnivores that eat just about anything -- although they are partial to acorns, roots and grub worms.
Since European explorers first brought hogs to Texas in the 1600s and gave them free range, the number of hogs existing in the wild has grown while their habitat has shrunk. Some of these hogs are descendants of escapees from the early settlers. Others were turned loose by farmers in later years when pork prices sunk too low to make a profit, say many extension agents, who specialize in agricultural issues.
The problem is worse today than it has ever been, they add, as hogs have started turning up in places where no hogs have gone before.
"I'm getting calls about them all the time. Not just in rural areas, but in suburban areas and even within the city limits of Houston and other towns," said David Veale, an urban wildlife biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
[Hog trapper Jay] Parker plans to butcher some of the 45 hogs that he already has captured and smoke the sausage in his own smokehouse: "I hardly ever eat meat from a store."
The rest will be sold, he said.
"They're good to eat," agreed [Bruce] Corner, the Anahuac mayor who along with Parker enjoys hunting hogs for which the only requirement is a hunting license.