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Feral hogs: Still a problem

I’ve always been glad to live in the city because of stuff like this, but maybe it’s not enough any more.

Arlington and Dallas are among cities along the Trinity River that also have reported problems with wild hogs that weigh several hundred pounds, [Ag Commissioner Todd] Staples said.

Wildlife officials say the hogs are now starting to plague urban areas because of changing habitats and prolific reproduction. Texas has up to 2 million of the hairy beasts, about half the nation’s population, and state officials say they cause about $400 million in damage each year.

Although not all feral hogs have tusks, for years the animals have been a menace in rural areas by shredding cornfields, eating calves and damaging fruit trees – even breaking through barbed-wire fences, said Texas Farm Bureau spokesman Gene Hall. They also wreck ecosystems by wallowing in riverbeds and streams.

“They can do more damage than a bulldozer,” Hall said.

Methods to stop the problem have failed, including a pig birth-control pill studied by a veterinarian and researcher. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering allowing hunters in helicopters to shoot wild hogs at a wildlife refuge in Central Texas, saying they keep destroying the habitat.

Just curious – how effective is shooting them from helicopters, anyway? Is it really possible to bag more of them than you would traditionally? Seems to me the noise from the copters would scare off any animals in the vicinity, but what do I know? Anybody have experience with this? Of course, if that’s not effective then it’s hard to say what would be. I’m glad it’s not my job to have to figure it out.

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8 Comments

  1. Ron in Houston says:

    I don’t know if they are as big of a menace as the Heights Walmart but some of the newer parts of Clear Lake have a real problem with feral hogs.

  2. Charles, this is a big problem in my precinct. To effectively control the population, the experts say the pigs need to be trapped, hunted and snared. And yes, helicopters work in the winter when there is no foliage.

  3. Sounds like shades of Sarah Palin to me and wouldn’t work in the Eastern part of the state. They are not nocturnal in the traditional sense but do a lot of damage at night. It is safer for them. Traps are effective but hogs reproduce regularly and have large litters so it seems to be a losing battle sometimes.
    Much of East Texas has a feral hog problem. Building a trap in a heart shape (where they can get in but not get out) seems to work for one of my friends. Sometimes you catch multiple hogs this way. I can’t use one right now because of the calves on the property but when I close the hay meadows next week I will put a trap in at least one of them. I never had much luck hunting them although some people do it for sport with dogs. They are one of the few animals that can be legally be hunted with dogs. According to the state they are an invasive species and are the landowners problem and not the state’s. They can be hunted, or trapped pretty much year round although you still may have to have a hunting license to hunt them. It is not advisable to hunt them with dogs during deer season because hunting deer with dogs is illegal and the “hog” dogs sometime trail deer and there is a very high fine and other penalties for hunting deer with dogs.

  4. Linkmeister says:

    They eat calves? Really?

  5. Ross says:

    Linkmeister, feral hogs will eat anything. Including calves. I’ve seen video of a pig getting shot by a hunter, and the other pigs turned and ate the dead pig. Even domestic pigs will occasionally eat a pig farmer, often after a fall in the pig pen.

    I don’t know how effective helicopter hunting will be, unless the pigs are in open areas, which doesn’t happen that often. On the ranch I hunt, the owners had the pros come in, they killed 42 pigs in one day by driving them into the open on the ground. There are still more than enough pigs there to maintain the population.

    Pigs are considered exotics. There’s no season, no limit, you just need a hunting license. It helps that they are pretty tasty up to about 300 pounds. Above that, they aren’t as good to eat.

  6. Linkmeister says:

    Wow. We have some out here in Hawai’i, and my B-in-Law occasionally bowhunts them on the Big Island when he can scrape together some friends to go with him, but they’re not (to my knowledge, anyway) a big problem on Oahu. Guess I’ll count my blessings!

  7. […] the Chron story and the Trib for more, and see this YouTube video, helpfully left as a comment on this post, to see a guy in a helicopter attempting to shoot feral hogs. It’s harder than you […]