Feral hogs causing destruction in south Texas

It's estimated that the feral hogs cause nearly $52 million in damages to Texas farmers

 

 

LAVACA COUNTY, Texas – Feral hogs have been wreaking havoc in parts of South Texas for decades now, but the hogs seem to be gaining a stronghold throughout the Lone Star State, now occupying 79% of the Texas landscape.

The wild hogs mainly cause headaches to Texas farmers, destroying crops and costing an estimated $52 million dollars in damages to Texas farmers every year.

David Hahn is a farmer in Port Lavaca and says that the wild hogs aren’t anything new to him, but he’s noticed an uptick in not only their populations but in their destructiveness.

“Wild hogs, become an increasing problem each year, we used to not have problems with ’em. They can do a lot of damage in one night. You can get 15 to 20 hogs out there and they’ll take up some acres,” says Hahn.

Hahn also says that the hogs aren’t picky eaters and will eat just about anything, from seeds that have just been planted to full-grown corn stocks. He also says that they aren’t efficient eaters either, noting that the hogs will knock down a corn stock, take a few bites, and move on to the next one, effectively taking out his crops.

Hahn estimated that for each acre lost due to the hogs he loses around $600, adding that they can destroy up to 10 acres a night, costing farmers like Hahn $6,000 in lost crops overnight.

Farmers have had to get creative to deal with the hog issue. High-powered rifles, night vision scopes, traps, a team of hunting dogs, and even the use of helicopters to gain an aerial advantage over the hogs are all methods used by Texans to combat the hogs, but there hasn’t been a sound solution to dealing with them. In 2019 the Texas legislature even passed a law that removed the requirement for a hog hunting license if they were being hunted on private properties. Some farmers liken the hogs to that of a rat in how much of a pest they are.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension has been researching the feral hogs and the issues they bring, but farmers are still reeling with the damages the hogs cause. You can visit the AgriLife Extension page here for a variety of resources on dealing with feral hogs.

The feral hogs are an exotic, invasive species that first made their appearance in present-day Texas in 1542 when Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto brought close to 700 hogs over as a traveling food source. Some of the hogs managed to escape and have since thrived in the Texas landscape ever since.

The hogs weigh around 200 pounds, but some have even been reported as weighing up to 500 pounds. With their quick motions, hard tusks which can impale human flesh, and coarse hair the feral hogs are sturdy and are tough creatures to track down and hunt. The hogs generally have one to two litters a year with five to six babies in each litter. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension estimates that if the feral hog population is left unchecked it could double in size in just five years.

Until there is a more effective solution to dealing with the feral hogs, Texas farmers will have to continue to deal with the hogs the best they can.

Be sure to watch a 25 News Now Extra, “HOG WILD”, which takes a deeper dive into the feral hog issue in parts of South Texas. Hear from two farmers and the Calhoun County judge on their run-ins with feral hogs.