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Hog Out Month aims to decrease Texas' feral hog population

By ALLISON MILES
Oct. 18, 2011 at 5:18 a.m.

Feral hog populations are an issue in the region as the smell of trash and food draws the animals in. They continue encroaching on cities, destroying land and more.

DID YOU KNOW ... ?

Feral hogs often destroy yards, parks, golf courses, rangeland, pastures, wildlife feeders and more. They also contribute to E. coli and other diseases in Texas streams, ponds and watersheds.

Hogs cause an estimated $400 million in damages annually.

Texas is home to an estimated 2 million feral hogs.

Vehicle collisions with feral hogs cause an estimated $1,200 in damage per collision and create safety hazards for those involved.

Source: Texas Department of Agriculture news release

The phrase "pig out" might already be common vernacular, but there's a slightly different twist on it that some hope will catch on.

"Hog out," to be exact.

Texas' second annual Hog Out Month, an initiative to reduce the state's feral hog population, kicked off Oct. 1, according to a Texas Department of Agriculture news release. Throughout the challenge, counties are encouraged to up their efforts to remove the destructive animals from Lone Star State land.

The five counties that remove the most hogs and have the highest participation in feral hog abatement programs receive grants, according to the release. The challenge runs through Dec. 31.

Texas plays home to an estimated 2 million feral hogs, according the news release, and they cause hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage each year.

Local participation complements work done in other areas and can result in a more comprehensive strategy statewide, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples said in the news release.

"The only way to combat a problem as far-reaching as feral hogs is to aggressively employ multiple tactics in a coordinated and concentrated effort, starting at the local level," he said.

Three Crossroads counties - Goliad, Lavaca and Matagorda - are participating in this year's event, according to a list put out by the Texas Department of Agriculture.

Feral hog populations are an issue in the region, said Rex Mays, district supervisor with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.

The smell of trash and the availability food draws the animals in, he said, and they continue encroaching on cities, destroying land and more.

"They're pretty destructive little animals," he said.

Hogs provide a benefit for hunters, however, Mays said, explaining many would rather kill a hog than deer. With their leaner meat, hogs are considered better table fare and can become sausage, steaks and more.

Also, he said, there are no bag limits regarding feral hogs and no restrictions on means, methods or times to hunt.

"You want to offer the opportunity for people to hunt them, as well as get rid of them," Mays said.

Charles "Pop" Lassmann is one who takes advantage of the hunting allowances.

Lassmann runs the Double L Ranch just outside Mission Valley. There, he offers year-round bowhunting trips for a variety of animals, including feral hogs.

"I'm one of the few people who makes money off of hogs," he said, noting he traps them and takes them to his property. "People just enjoy the hunting."

Regardless, he said he understands why many dislike the animals. Especially farmers with row crops.

"They'll knock them down and trample through them," Lassmann said. "They'll ruin even more than they eat."

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