County renews feral hog abatement program

Spring is but weeks away and along with bluebonnets and warmer weather, the change brings the about birthing season for Texas’ estimated 1.5 million feral hogs.

To help keep ahead of the infestation, the Hays County Commissioners Court on Jan. 28 renewed its interlocal agreement with Texas State University for feral hog control.

The county will use $5,000 out of up to $7,500 in its feral hog abatement grant for the program, which is administered by The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, for 2020.

Services, which are associated with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension program, range over a number of areas including supplies, technical support, education and contracted services.

Believed to be the descendants of hogs first introduced to Texas more than 300 years ago by Spanish explorers, the feral hogs of today also encompass the genetics of Russian boars introduced in the 1930s.

According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the population of feral hogs was boosted during the 1800s during hostilities between the United States and Mexico by hogs that escaped after being brought here by settlers.

They can weigh up to 400 pounds and though reproduction can occur at any time during the year, most young are born in the early spring. Females can have litters up to 12 in size, and some have two litters each year. They normally travel in family groups of two females and their young, and their range has expanded to virtually all areas of the state.

They are omnivorous, meaning they eat plants and animals. They also eat carrion, and have been linked to at least one human death in Texas. They are attracted to many agricultural crops and while they feed mainly at night, they have been seen in daylight hours as well.

Abatement techniques utilized by the Meadows Center mirror those recommended by the state. Prime among them are remote-operated traps that can be triggered when hogs have congregated. The program also has a social media campaign component, and two landowner outreach events are planned. Hog removal in the county will also be tracked, and there will be cost sharing incentive programs for trapping supplies and aerial hunting for some program participants.

A final report will be submitted to the county by Aug. 31.

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