Cass County plans crackdown on hogs

The Texas Department of Agriculture estimates the state's population of feral hogs at 2 million. Omnivores, the wild pigs are an invasive species that destroys crops, pastures and property. The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Cass County has secured a wild pig abatement grant to fund a hog hunting bounty program that will run from Sept. 1 to Nov. 18 this year in the county. Feral hogs harvested during the period will bring $5 each, with the presentation of the tail as biological evidence.

LINDEN — Cass County is getting serious about its feral hog problem.

The county had a gathering that included battle planning for about 60 landowners last week to go over both difficulties and solutions.

The potential environmental damage of the invasive creatures was the agenda’s first topic, presented by Jessica Rymel, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension agent for Cass County.

Rymel has been instrumental in securing a wild pig abatement grant to fund a hog hunting bounty program that will run from Sept. 1 to Nov. 18 this year in Cass County. Feral hogs harvested during the period will bring $5 each, with the presentation of the tail as biological evidence.

Education about hogs and the problem was next on the list. A Texas veterinarian, biologist and state wildlife service member spoke about impact of wild pig diseases and use of control methods such as trapping, poisoning, hunting and dogs as well as the entrepreneurial potential of the successful business of live hog buying.

The feral hog is a daunting adversary. Its birth rate is exceptional in that the sow can starting delivering piglets at six months and have two to three litters every 15 months.

Landowners should not expect to eradicate the pig, the audience heard, but control it. The wild pig, which is quite intelligent, can ruin land overnight, speakers said.

The pig issue is growing in Texas, Rymel said, noting that 66% of the pigs must be harvested annually in Texas for five years to keep the population level. Currently, the rate of harvest is 29%.

The wild pig has no positive impact, unless one were to consider it a food source and the hunting of it to be a sporting activity, the speakers said.

Landowners present were asked to fill out forms detailing the damage they already had incurred from wild pigs. Rymel said such assessment of damage is a first and important step in securing funds and publicity for the fight to control the animal threat.

Rymel also encouraged owners to sign up with their intention to participate with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Cass County’s wild pig abatement program.

The two-hour meeting drew multiple questions and responses from the audience.

The hog issue is not a recent problem. Trapping and hunting of hogs has been going on at an increasing level for more than 10 years, the speakers said.