Texas Bounty on Hogs......
Posted 12 April 2004 - 07:39 AM
By Bill Hanna, Star-Telegram Staff Writer
Apr. 11, 2004
You can't turn a sow's ear into a silk purse.
But in Van Zandt County, a pair of them will fetch you seven bucks.
The rural county about 60 miles east of Dallas has been so overrun by wild hogs that it has instituted a bounty. For every pair of pig ears, the county will pay trappers $7.
It's the latest example of the steps being taken to control feral hogs that are beginning to overrun the state.
In its first-ever feral hog survey, the Texas Cooperative Extension Service, a division of Texas A&M University, queried 491 East Texas landowners in an attempt to quantify the havoc the animals are causing.
Ninety percent of the landowners reported seeing hogs on their property during the last five years. The average amount of damage on their property was $4,184.
The survey also showed a division between farmers, who detest the wild hogs, and hunters.
"I thought some of the people would say they liked them for extra income or liked hunting them themselves, but not one person had anything good to say about them -- not a one," said Billy Higginbotham, a Texas extension wildlife and fisheries specialist who supervised the survey.
Even with the growing anti-hog sentiments, the agency still finds itself caught between hog haters and hog lovers.
The agency holds Feral Hog Appreciation Days that try to balance the interests of landowners with the desires of hunters. Five are scheduled in West Texas counties in April and May alone.
But Van Zandt County rancher John Durgin has nothing good to say about the critters -- or hog hunters.
"Around here, we would probably hunt the hunters if we saw them," said Durgin who has caught about 300 hogs on his property in recent years. "We don't think much of hunters. When they're around, it's harder to trap. And trapping is far more efficient than hunting."
One landowner in the survey said, "I fear allowing my grandchildren to go beyond the yard as they might be attacked by wild hogs."
Wild hogs are the same species as domestic swine, but when they are released into the wild, they revert to their feral state within a few generations. Conservative estimates place their numbers between 1.5 million and 2 million statewide, the largest feral hog population in the country.
Wild hogs reproduce rapidly and have no known predators. They pose a threat to livestock, humans and even vehicles who can plow into them at night as they cross rural highways.
In the last year, Van Zandt County officials have forked over $10,731 for 1,533 pairs of hog ears, said County Auditor John Shinn.
This fiscal year alone, Van Zandt County has paid out $6,641, well over the $2,500 budgeted by county commissioners.
Brian Cummins, the Van Zandt County extension agent who oversees the bounty, said the program will probably be suspended because its budget for the year has been spent.
"We need a statewide program -- a bounty or some other way to control feral hogs -- because it can't be done at the county level," Cummins said. "Right now, they're out of control."
Bill Hanna, (817) 390-7698 email@example.com
There is room for all of God's creatures, right next to the mashed potatoes.
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Posted 16 April 2004 - 08:09 AM
i think it is a sham the they have such a bad tast in there mouths about the hunters
if you like ship me some up here i wish i had some hogs to hunt on the off season
Posted 16 April 2004 - 09:25 AM
I have a few ina pen now that you can have.
Posted 16 April 2004 - 10:01 AM
thanks any way if i had them here i would stop coming to texas and i just can't do that it would kill me .
the the state of texas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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