Hogs are not native to Texas. In fact, they are not even native to the United States. As such, all hogs found in Texas are the results of either escaped and released domestic hogs. These domestic hogs gone wild are referred to as “feral.” Although they can be fun to hunt, feral hogs cause large amounts of damage, particularly to Texas’ watersheds.
The latest research shows that this exotic non-native mammal causes somewhere around $52 million worth of agricultural damage on an annual basis in Texas. This includes farming and ranching damages. Additionally, it is believed that feral hogs negatively influence water quality in almost every watershed throughout the state. Continue reading
Described as being as prolific as cockroaches, destructive as rats, and as surly as badgers, wild (feral) hogs are the bane of ranchers and farmers, but they’re a boon for hunters. Nearly three million of these dirt slingin’ critters roam free in Texas, rooting up pastures, wallowing in creek beds, and gorging themselves on crops and gardens. Trappers and hunters often are called in to help reduce hog numbers when feral swine run amuck.
For nearly a year, a team of commercial swine and show pig producers, slaughter plant operators, veterinarians, hunters, hog trappers and wildlife biologists have wrestled with rule ideas that would prevent captured wild hogs from creating more chaos, while still giving hunters an opportunity to bag a boar trophy worth bragging rites.
In mid-May, draft regulations were presented to commissioners for the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC), the state’s livestock and poultry health regulatory agency. Public comment on the proposed rules, to be published in the Texas Register June 6, will be accepted by the TAHC through July 6. TAHC commissioners will consider the rules for adoption at their next meeting on July 29 in Austin. Continue reading
I was locking a pipe-rail gate behind R.L. Loving’s pickup truck, when the woman walked through her patio door, into her backyard, shielded her eyes with a hand and stared intently across the bayou at us. “This could go either way,” R.L. said.
In the back of his truck squatted a large cage made of heavy-gauge wire. Inside the cage were three live feral hogs — a big sow and a couple of shoats. We were on the edge of a large tract of as-yet-undeveloped property barely outside Houston’s city limits and hard against a patch of suburbia filled with half-million-dollar homes.
R.L., an accountant and financial adviser by profession but an outdoorsperson at heart, had permission — the blessing, really — of the folks who control the tract to live-trap and remove feral hogs there. He is good at it. Continue reading
Feral hogs should be controlled by shooting and live trapping whenever possible. The greatest success usually occurs during the winter when feral hogs are forced to travel more to find food. In addition to rooting up pastures, feral hogs compete directly with white-tailed deer, turkey and most other wildlife species that rely heavily on acorns and other hard and soft mast for winter food. Continue reading
Remember the 1,100-pound “wild” hog the 11-year old Alabama boy bagged with his trusty pistol? Well, this story needed a little more rooting around to get to the truth. In reality, every once in a while somebody kills a really big hog, enters it into a contest and its registers roughly 300 to 400 pounds, but most truly wild hogs will struggle to reach 150 pounds. Continue reading
Wild pigs (Sus scrofa) include both feral (domestic animals that have escaped captivity) hogs and what people commonly refer to as “wild boar,” a native to Eurasia but introduced to North America to interbreed with feral hogs. Feral hogs include first-generation escapees as well as all subsequent production, which comprises the overwhelming bulk of the U.S. free-ranging hog population. Together, they can all be lumped into the category of “feral hogs.” Like domestic hogs, feral hogs may be any color. Their size and conformation depend on the breed, degree of hybridization with wild boar, and level of nutrition during their growing period. More often that not, feral hogs tend to beÂ brown, black, or a variation or combinationÂ of both. Continue reading
Feral hogs can inhabit a variety of habitats, fromÂ coastal marshes to rough-country mountain ranges. These wild hogsÂ prefer cover of dense brush or marsh vegetation, but will venture out into open fields under the cover of darkness. Hogs are generally restricted to areas below snowline and above freezing temperatures during the winter. Continue reading