Tadpole's Outdoor Blog

October 17, 2013

Bounty for Feral Hogs

Filed under: Hogs — Freddie Keel @ 6:48 am

Some Texas counties are increasing bounties on feral hogs as the non-native, invasive species presses the search for food closer to urban areas.

The tusked hogs grub through fields, gardens, even lawns, carrying disease and parasites with them.

Hays and Caldwell counties in Central Texas are offering a $5 bounty for each hog bagged by hunters, up $2 from last year.

Bastrop County is offering a $5 bounty for the first time.

Texas has the nation’s largest feral hog population with nearly 2.6 million pigs this past June.

Experts blame the animals for about $500 million in statewide damage, including $52 million a year to agriculture.

Professional hog hunter R.A. “Bubba” Ortiz said drought pushed the hogs closer to urban areas for food.

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There’s no question feral hogs are a sizable problem across Texas.

Texas A&M University has estimated that more than 2 million of the porcine creatures live throughout the state.

And thanks to a feral hog online reporting system developed by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, officials working on reducing the problems from feral hogs — including the animals’ rooting, wallowing and other behaviors disrupting and damaging the landscape, pastures, cropland and wildlife habitats — have a better idea of the situation in Bastrop County.

According to Bastrop County Extension Agent Rachel Bauer, the survey consisted of two separate reports. The first one, from landowners, shows that over the course of the 15-day reporting period ending Aug. 15, landowners reported more than $227,000 in damages, including to pastures, livestock, fences, water troughs and owner or employee time, among other things. The landowners reported 365 hogs taken, primarily by trapping and hunting, Bauer said.

She said in the public report, 718 hogs — both adult and juvenile — were reported.

“The types of damage reported or observed by the public included hogs causing damage to land by rooting, wallowing and rubbing,” Bauer said. “Areas where the damage was occurring was in cropland and wetland, as well as fencing and lawn or landscapes.”

Because of this damage and the fact that feral hogs reproduce rapidly — they can breed usually between 8 and 10 months of age and typically produce one litter of four to six young a year, although they are capable of having two litters a year and litter size can range up to 10 to 12 piglets — Bauer presented the survey information to the Bastrop County Commissioners Court, which unanimously approved a feral hog bounty program to reduce the number of animals roaming through the county.

“The damage alone the hogs can do to crops, to pastures, to livestock, is incredible,” Bauer said. “We’re hoping to reduce the number of feral hogs and reduce the damage they do.”

The bounty program, which will pay $5 per hog tail, runs from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31.

The hogs must be harvested in Bastrop County and participants must give a land location and denote on a county map where the hogs were harvested when turning in tails at a check station.

Bauer said hogs may be taken by any lawful method, but noted it’s illegal to buy a feral hog from another person to participate in the bounty. Those with valid receipts who sold feral hogs to a state-certified buyer may bring in valid receipts to participate in the bounty, she said.

Participants must bring in hog tails — enclosed in a zip-lock plastic bag with no more than 10 tails per bag — at the following check stations all day each Wednesday from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, and from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays:

n Bastrop Feed and Supply, 777 Hwy. 95 North

n Red Rock General Store, 106 Lentz Main St., Red Rock

n Wagon Wheel Store, 2989 S. Hwy. 304, Rosanky

n Smith Supply, 764 West Loop 230, Smithville

n Elgin General Store, 1155 Dildy Drive, Elgin

n Paige Tractor, 4409 Hyw. 290 East, Paige

The final date to turn in hog tails will be Jan. 2, 2014, during normal business hours at any of the check stations.

For each tail a contestant turns in at the check station, he or she will receive a raffle ticket. At the end of the bounty, the tickets will be combined and a drawing will take place at the Bastrop/Caldwell County Wildlife Management Association fundraiser on April 19, 2014. Results of the bounty will be announced at this fundraiser and cash prizes for the top bounty participants.

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