Extension Agent: A refresher on feral hog laws
By Brian Yanta
Feral hogs in Texas cause an estimated $52 million in damage to the agricultural industry annually, according to Texas AgriLife Extension.
The hogs, which sometimes weigh more than 300 pounds, destroy crops, trample fences and eat anything in their path. They are basically nature's bulldozer.
Goliad County is entering the second month of the three-month effort to control hogs for the Texas Department of Agriculture "Hog Out" feral hog abatement program. The county entered the state-wide contest with the approval of the Goliad County Commissioners' Court. The program is administered through the Goliad County Wildlife Management Association. Grants will be awarded to the top five counties with the most hogs removed and highest participation in the program.
The Wildlife Management Association also voted to initiate a county bounty of $1 per hog.
Feral hogs are not a game or non-game species in Texas. Instead, feral hogs are considered exotic livestock as described by the Texas Parks and Wildlife code. They actually fall under the ownership of the landowner and not the citizens of the state. Because of this distinction, you can control feral hogs on your property without a hunting license.
If you are hunting feral hogs for trophy or food, trapping or setting snares, a hunting license is required. Texas Parks and Wildlife outlines license requirements and specific legal hunting methods in its annual hunting and fishing regulations publication, the Outdoor Annual. There is not a bag limit, nor is there a season.
It is legal to hunt at night with the use of a spotlight and night vision, but it is a good idea to call your local game warden in advance, and possibly the sheriff's office.
It is also legal to use suppressors (silencers) on firearms to hunt feral hogs, but an Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms form must be completed at purchase.
A new law that went into effect Sept. 1 made it legal for landowners to have a third-party hunt on their property from a helicopter, now making it affordable for the landowner to contract one of the most effective methods to control feral hogs. However, a permit through Texas Parks and Wildlife to hunt feral hogs by air is still and has been required.
The Texas Animal Health Commission regulates the movement of feral hogs, holding facilities and some aspects of hunting preserves. If you are not transporting hogs to an approved holding facility, or to slaughter, and you are crossing county lines, you will need a permit to do so, basically making it illegal to release feral hogs once trapped.
Ironically, it is still legal to domesticate feral hogs to do so please contact TAHC.
And it is still illegal to poison feral hogs, a law regulated through U.S. Fish and Wildlife.
That makes a half dozen government agencies that play some part in feral hogs, not counting the legislature, lobbyists, policy groups and individuals asking for legislation.
For more information on feral hogs, go to our Coping with Feral Hogs website, feralhogs.tamu.edu.
Brian Yanta is the Goliad County Extension agent.