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Entities work to combat feral hog problem

Nov. 2, 2010 at 6:02 a.m.

A group of feral hogs gather alongside the road. The animals, which are largely nocturnal, typically grow to weigh between 100 and 400 pounds and can cause extensive damage.

They stand about 36 inches tall, can weigh in at a whopping 100 to 400 pounds and, because of their nocturnal nature, often leave behind animal tracks and trampled gardens as the only sign they've even been there.

They're feral hogs and people are working to keep the population at bay.

The animals cause trouble throughout the Crossroads, said Anthony Netardus, extension agent for DeWitt County. Even now, the extension office receives calls that the hogs are finding their way into people's home lawns and often destroy crops.

"They are a big issue, from an ag standpoint, here and in all of our counties," he said.

An estimated 2 million feral hogs call Texas home, according to a Texas Department of Agriculture news release. They cause about $400 million in damages each year.

Entities do what they can to control the issue, he said, explaining some place bounties on the animals, such as $10 for a fresh set of ears. DeWitt County recently applied for a grant where the money would go toward controlling the hog population.

"We haven't heard back yet," Netardus explained. "If we do get the money, then we're going to map out a plan as to how to handle the problem."

It isn't only the Crossroads trying to combat the four-legged animals.

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples declared October "Hog Out Month - Get the Hog Outta Texas!" and urged people in all of Texas' 254 counties to take legal measures to lower the animal populations in their areas.

Feral hogs are costly to agricultural operations and wildlife habitats and often make their ways to urban areas, where they can destroy places such as public parks and golf courses, Staples said in the news release.

"These hogs, which number in the millions and are capable of breeding twice a year," he said, "wreak havoc on property and also can pose a health threat to humans through disease and automobile accidents."

Trouble with the animals are nothing new to Texas, Netardus said.

"But they are a pretty big issue," he said. "There are a lot of people trying to figure out how to manage them."



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