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Extension Agent: Feral hogs are nature's bulldozer

May 10, 2010 at 12:10 a.m.
Updated May 11, 2010 at 12:11 a.m.


By Brian Yanta

Feral hogs behave like bulldozers, and they are built like them, too. These animals are solid muscle and efficient at turning soil over to look for food. A major concern of this activity is the damage they leave behind, which has been estimated at $52 million a year to the agricultural industry. We want to help people curb that cost a bit.

Along with commonly used box and corral traps, snares also have their place in the fight against feral hogs. However, a warning is worth noting here. Snares do not care who they catch, and often they are lethal to whatever animal enters it.

According to our Texas Wildlife Damage Control Service, part of Texas AgriLife Extension and the Texas A&M University System, snares are the most important single tool for removing feral hogs. Snare use accounted for 55 percent of the feral hogs removed by our agency's control efforts.

The snare consists of a loop of steel cable attached to a secure object or a heavy drag and placed in a location so that the loop catches the animal as it passes through a small area. The snare has a sliding lock device that allows the loop to close, but not open easily. A heavy swivel is used on the end of the cable that is attached to the anchor to minimize problems of twisting and breakage of the cable by the captured animal.

Snares for taking feral hogs are mostly placed under fences in holes or "crawls" that hogs use as evidenced by tracks or hair caught on the fence.

In areas where the risk of capturing non-target animals is low, snares can be set in the trails used by hogs. Trail snares are infrequently used because of the hazard to livestock and deer.

Snares are of relatively low cost compared to other control techniques, such as aerial hunting. Disadvantages are:

1. Only one hog can be captured at a time. If a number of hogs are causing damage and using one fence hole to enter the damage area, it can take a considerable amount of time to stop the problem. Hunting with dogs or aerial hunting may be advised in those situations.

2. They are inappropriate in situations where trail sets cannot be used and where the hogs live entirely within a pasture and do not pass under fences.

3. Large hogs occasionally break snares.

4. Non-target animals are sometimes taken.

Our Wildlife and Fisheries Unit developed "Snaring Feral Hogs." The instructional piece conveys the laws, aids to prepare snares, offer tips for snare placement and avoiding capturing non-target animals.

If you are interested in the use of snares, carefully read this publication to understand how to maximize your efforts to capture the non-native feral hog.

To view it, visit http://pcwp.tamu.edu/docs/files/Snaring.pdf

Brian Yanta is the Goliad County Extension agent.

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