Tadpole's Outdoor Blog

December 4, 2012

We’ve got a situation on our deer lease.

The population of feral hogs is exploding.

Momma can have three batches per year.

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Once they eat all our corn,

it’s time for a snack from momma.

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September 20, 2011

Hog Out Month in October

Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples is challenging all 254 Texas counties to participate in Hog Out Month in October – a statewide challenge to decrease the state’s feral hog population.

This challenge, which Staples announced Tuesday morning, will coordinate various feral hog removal strategies implemented across the state into one statewide effort.

“Wild hogs are finding their way into urban and rural areas destroying yards, golf courses, parks and crops at a cost of up to $400 million each year,” Staples said. “These animals reproduce at staggering rates and are now a menace on Texas highways, which is why I encourage all Texans to continue to step up efforts to reduce the number of feral hogs and protect our state from further damage.”

Beginning Thursday, qualified hunters will be able to take to the skies to take aim at the state’s burgeoning feral hog population.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission has approved rules for hunting the hogs and coyotes by helicopter, in accordance with House Bill 716 passed by the Texas Legislature earlier this year.

The new rules permit qualified landowners or their agents to pay helicopter operators for aerial operations. Qualification involves filing a form with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and does not involve a fee.

An estimated 2 million feral hogs live in Texas, causing hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage across the state each year, according to the Texas Department of Agriculture. The statewide challenge, which kicks off Oct. 1 during Hog Out Month, will run through Dec. 31. Grants will be awarded to the five counties with the most hogs removed and highest participation in feral hog abatement programs.

The deadline for counties to submit a notice of intent to participate is Sept. 30.

In October 2010, Staples kicked off the first county challenge to rally Texans to reduce the number of feral hogs in the state.

The TDA works with the Wildlife Services branch of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, which removes thousands of hogs annually through various feral hog abatement strategies that result in an estimated savings of more than $4 million to Texas landowners.

Landowners are encouraged to call their local AgriLife Extension Agent for information on feral hog control measures.

“The only way to combat a problem as far-reaching as feral hogs is to aggressively employ multiple tactics in a coordinated and concentrated effort, starting at the local level,” Staples said. “Good local participation complements the work done in other communities resulting in a comprehensive statewide strategy.”

Counties may obtain a notice of intent to participate in the Hog Out Month challenge by visiting www.texasagriculture.gov, calling (512) 463-6695 or emailing Grants@TexasAgriculture.gov.

Texas Feral Hog Facts:

• Feral hogs cause an estimated $400 million in damages annually.

• There are an estimated 2 million feral hogs in Texas.

• Feral hogs are predators of lambs, kid goats, baby calves, newborn fawns and ground-nesting birds, and compete for food and space with many native species of wildlife.

• Feral hogs commonly destroy urban yards, parks and golf courses, as well as rangeland, pastures, crops, fencing, wildlife feeders and other property. Additionally, they contribute to E. coli and other diseases in Texas streams, ponds and watersheds.

• Vehicle collisions with feral hogs cause an estimated $1,200 in damage per collision, and create safety hazards for those involved.

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May 29, 2011

Wild Hog Roundup

Wulf Outdoor Sports is East Texas’ premier retailer for hunting, fishing, archery, outdoor apparel and off-road power vehicles. Fred Wulf, a long-term resident of East Texas and a man with 35 years business experience, opened Wulf Outdoor Sports to the people of East Texas on June 8, 2004 with his first store located in Center, Texas.

Recently Wulf Outdoors sponsored the first Wild Hog Roundup.  Thirty-seven teams competed from May 5th through May 14 to see which team could catch the most hogs and the largest hog.  The hogs had to be taken from a few nearby counties by trapping or the use of dogs.  East Texas is over run with feral hogs and this was a good opportunity to prove who was the best at catching wild hogs.

A total of 724 wild hogs were taken during the contest period and the largest was 400 pounds.  The winning team caught 154 hogs.     For full score board : http://www.wulfoutdoorsports.com/

A video of the heavy hog capture is available on Youtube.

click on the bottom right icon for full screen and esc to return.

February 1, 2011

Hunting Feral Hogs with Helicopters?

Feral hogs may face aerial attack at Balcones Canyonlands refuge

Population control efforts are falling short; officials mull using helicopters.

Aerial shooting of feral hogs could look like this scene near Mertzon, or brush could be too dense to allow effective hunting of the destructive animals.
Eric Gay/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Aerial shooting of feral hogs could look like this scene near Mertzon, or brush could be too dense to allow effective hunting of the destructive animals.

Hoping to combat the destructive impact of feral hogs on the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge northwest of Austin, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering culling the hogs by shooting them from a helicopter.

For years the refuge staff has tried to keep hog populations down by trapping them or killing them in one of several late autumn hunts — but to little avail. Rooting aggressively for food and willing to wallow in anything that looks like a comforting depression of mud, the hogs have caused widespread damage to pastures, according to refuge manager Deborah Holle .

The refuge, formed in 1992 to protect habitat for two endangered songbirds, comprises about 23,000 acres in Burnet, Travis and Williamson counties. There is no evidence that the hogs disrupt the life of the songbirds, but they do wreak havoc on other wildlife in the refuge, Holle said, outcompeting them for food and destroying their habitat.

Under the Feral Hog Management Plan, approved in 2001, hunters can shoot the animals during the refuge’s “Big Game Hunt.” The federal agency is considering amending the plan to allow for aerial shooting, which it calls a “successful and accepted means of hog control” in a news release. “Aerial shooting can be a cost-effective method for reducing the number of feral hogs occurring in high densities.”

The amendment to the plan would, specifically, allow personnel from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services to shoot feral hogs on refuge lands away from public roads and developed areas. Shooting could begin as soon as next month , before the endangered birds begin their nesting period in early March.

Despite operating a half-dozen traps, Holle says the refuge nets only about 40 hogs a year. Once trapped, the animals are left for coyotes.

Destruction by feral hogs is a statewide problem, according to Mike Bodenchuk , state director for Texas Wildlife Services, which runs programs to keep the animals in check.

He said that in 2003, “the pig bomb went off,” and the population increased 20 percent a year through 2007 as litters outraced population control tactics. They now number about 2 million.

Bodenchuk said the pigs cause $400 million in damage annually, he said.

The state allows people to hunt hogs on their own land, or with the permission of a landowner, year-round in an effort to keep numbers down.

“Eating wild hog is the most delicious pork you’ll ever get,” said Joel McMurtrey , who used to spearhead hog eradication efforts at the refuge and whose e-mail handle is hawgmn .

He said the hogs are hard to count and to catch because with the slightest pressure they become nocturnal.

“I wish them luck with their activity,” McMurtrey said of the Wildlife Services plan, but hunting the hogs by helicopter “will give very little advantage because the brush is so dense and it’s hard to see what’s there.”

asherprice@statesman.com; 445-3643

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