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Another kind of feral hog to worry about

Texas now has a warthog problem.

Over its 46-year history, the Chaparral Wildlife Management Area has been the site of a long list of achievements that cemented its reputation as the premier state-owned wildlife and wildlife habitat research, education and public hunting complex in South Texas.

This year, the “Chap” added a new feat to that list. But it’s not one the staff of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s 15,200-acre tract in Dimmit and LaSalle counties wanted or covets.

“I’m guess now we’ll be known as the first public hunting area in North America where a hunter harvested a warthog,” said Stephen Lange, Chaparral WMA manager.

And not just one warthog. During public deer hunts on the Chaparral WMA this autumn, hunters have taken four warthogs, wild swine native to Africa and cousins of the feral hogs whose booming population swarms like locusts over Texas’ landscape causing millions of dollars of property damage and untold harm to native wildlife, habitat and other natural resources.

The Chaparral WMA is in the center of what evidence indicates is a growing, range-expanding, self-sustaining feral population of African warthogs, the first such population on this continent. And that worries state wildlife managers such as Lange, who see the non-native warthogs, which can weigh more than 200 pounds, as having the potential to negatively affect native wildlife and habitat.

“There certainly are some concerns,” he said of evidence warthogs are gaining a cloven-hoofed hold in South Texas. “Any non-indigenous animal competes with native wildlife for resources.”

You can say that again. Warthogs have only been seen in the wild for a year or so, after presumably escaping from a private ranch to which they had been legally imported. Feral hogs had been here for a long time before causing a problem, so maybe it will be awhile before these critters do the same. They do breed like feral hogs, though, so don’t think the problem will just go away. Like feral hogs, they can be hunted without limit, though whether they can be pork-chopped or not is unclear to me. Perhaps like feral hogs, whose menu name is “wild boar”, you will see these on the menu of the more adventurous restaurants in town. I suppose that will be a small consolation for whatever problems they do cause.

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One Comment

  1. Marc Mielke says:

    Anthony Bourdain once had warthog anus on his show. IIRC, he didn’t much care for it.