The Hogs of Texas

Just saw another article about the feral hog problem across the South. If you live in rural Texas you are undoubtedly familiar with it. If you live in town you may not have had have a fifty acre corn crop devastated in one night by a pack of feral pigs. Or, you may never have experienced leaving your front teeth in the steering wheel of your John Deere as you dropped into a “hog waller” of the size of a pick up truck that you couldn’t see for it being grown up in knee high Bermuda grass. Well, anyhow it’s true. Texas loses no less than fifty million dollars a year in crop losses alone as a  direct result of feral hog damage. Feral means, once domestic, now wild. There are millions of them, reproducing at an alarming rate in every county in Texas and about five other southern states.Their only predator is man. And, we only take a fraction of them each year from night-hunting, trapping, and hunting with dogs. They are getting ahead of us. The dollar value of their damage is rising. There was a time when they had natural control by large predators such as pumas, jaguars, wolves, and bears. (Oh my). I’m tempted to import a big bad- ass cat from Fort Davis just to get even. Which reminds me of the furor produced by reintroducing Alaskan gray wolves into Yellowstone park in Wyoming. There was an initiative to poison hogs on a wider scale that has recently been stopped. One person complained that their livelihood was hunting and trapping hogs, and poisoning would put them out of business. The problem is that we can’t hunt and trap enough to even begin to keep up with these intelligent, cagey critters and their incredible reproductive rate! That in turn reminds me of a meeting held in West Texas years ago about coyote control in an area populated by sheep and goat raisers who were losing lambs and kids. The lady giving the talk went into lugubrious detail about vasectomizing  male coyotes. Finally one old rancher raised his hand. He rose to stand, cleared his throat and said, “Ma’am, I don’t think you understand our problem. These coyotes are eating our sheep not mating with them!”

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