Over five million feral pigs reside in the United States, and half of that five million are in Texas. The pig population there has been described by wildlife experts as one of the most pressing conservation issues in the state, and officials want the pigs gone. Not only do the unruly swine cause more than $52 million in agricultural damages every year, they are also in direct competition with wildlife such as whitetail deer, turkey, and quail. As part of a new concentrated effort to increase management efforts, the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) has declared October “Hog Out Month.”
“Let’s get the hogs out of Texas,” Commissioner Todd Staples said in a press release. “Feral hogs are destructive creatures that cause millions of dollars in damages each year in our state. These pests are both an urban and rural problem. They destroy farmers’ fields, front yards and public property. By working together, we’re able to step up our efforts to thwart these dangerous creatures and protect our economy and Texas agriculture.”
How much money is Texas losing every year thanks to the invasive hog population? The TDA estimates the total in rural and urban damages to be roughly $500 million. Even for a state as big as Texas, that big of an economic gouging can not go unnoticed. So the state recently started its 2014 Coordinated Hog Out Management Program (CHOMP) that will focus on promoting hog abatement methods, coordinated hunting and trapping, and aerial gunning of feral pigs. The program runs from September 1 to November 30 and will award counties grants to continue local abatement activities. The awarding of a grant, from a total of $175,000 available, depends on the number of feral hogs killed in the applicant county as well as educational initiatives and plans for future abatement measures.
“CHOMP works to concentrate feral hog abatement activities in individual Texas counties and get the most bang for our buck,” Commissioner Staples said. “Location, terrain and vegetation impact which abatement methods work best in each individual area. I look forward to seeing communities across the state stepping up to take on this challenge and make a difference for our state.”
In Texas, as in many some other states, hogs are not considered game animals and can be taken by any means or methods as long as you have a hunting license. There are no seasons or bag limits, and the only thing that prevents more hunters and trappers from targeting hogs is getting permission from land owners. CHOMP will also focus on educating landowners on removal methods, and the benefits of allowing sportsmen and women onto their lands for hog eradication.
You can learn more about the feral pig problem in this video produced by the state’s Parks and Wildlife department.