According to a November report in The Dallas Morning News: "Wild pigs may not look like much, but they're among the most intelligent animals in the United States, which makes them formidable adversaries. And they've taken over Texas and have been documented in every county, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife."
The newspaper added that these pigs cost Texans about $52 million in agricultural damage every year. It's safe to say that the wild pig population explosion is a Malthusian nightmare. The numbers tell the tale, and it is very depressing.
- Wild pigs can have two litters a year, typically giving birth to three to eight piglets per litter. Texans would have to remove two-thirds of the feral hog population every year to keep the number of pigs stable. Right now, the state is removing 29 percent of the population. That number has to (somehow) rise to 75 percent.
- Wild pigs are mostly nocturnal, seeking cover near water and eating both plants and other animals.
- About 79 percent of the land mass in Texas is considered suitable environment for wild pigs, which descended from hogs brought in by European settlers in the 1500s.
- Adult feral hogs don't have many natural predators and are highly adaptable. Tepid efforts to capture them may result in trap-smart pigs. Unprovoked attacks against humans are rare.
- Some cities have taken up abatement efforts. Earlier this year, Dallas leaders approved a three-year $347,000 contract with a trapping company that corrals pigs on city-owned land and sells them to a meat-processing plant in Fort Worth.
The newspaper cautioned the city-slickers who wouldn't know a pig from a peacock. "Even if you're not a farmer, here's why you should be concerned: Feral hogs tear up lawns, parks and golf courses; they skulk around highways and train tracks; and they poop in our water supply. Estimates peg the number of wild pigs in the U.S. at 4 million or more — and somewhere between 2 million to 3 million are in our state."
Let's do something
In the spirit of Sam Houston, Stephen F. Austin and all of the other heroes of the Texas Independence 1836, I think it's time to call in the cavalry of hunters from Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Oklahoma and New Mexico.
Here are four things that can be done to begin to get the wild pig problem under control
1. Draw on the talents and brainpower of Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife.
This problem is bigger than agriculture, and the misguided proposal of Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller to use warfarin to poison these animals proved this. Fortunately, the state Legislature (not usually known for its good sense) killed this boneheaded move before it became law.
Ultimately, this is a wild game management issue, and the public policy and biological experts in the TDPW, who manage regulations and enforcement of hunting and fishing in the state, need to get involved in this mess, pronto. They will need a budget and programs that make this hunting effort sustainable.
Reduce the out-of-state rates for hunting licenses for hog hunting.
If we want the hunters who call themselves the Cajun Navy or the Tennessee Volunteers to take home the hams, pork chops and backstraps of Texas hogs, we need to make it easier for them to afford the trip. Part of that involves making it less expensive to hunt hogs in Texas. Charge 10 bucks (or less), call it the Hog Wild hunting license (good for three days) and promote it to the hunters in surrounding states. We could also point out that hog hunting is a year-round opportunity. So, in the doldrums of summer, when no other hunting is available, hunters will have a place to keep their skills sharp and put some meat in the freezer.