County renews trapper contract

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

Oct. 29, 2012 at 5:29 a.m.

Coyotes, bobcats and feral hogs are the culprits of more than half a million dollars worth of reported losses in the past year in Victoria County.

On Monday, the Commissioners Court approved a new contract for a county trapper, the person responsible for helping farmers and ranchers deal with these destructive creatures, as well as keeping the airport runway clear of animals and protecting the health and safety of the county.

County Judge Don Pozzi said the trappers work on an "at request" basis.

"It's an amazing amount every month that they do," Pozzi said.

Gary McEwin, district supervisor for the Texas Wildlife Services Program, said the benefits of the program are felt throughout the country.

"You look at a single event dealing with somebody's predator problem or feral hog problem, and in and of itself, it's not something that would be worthy of statewide or national attention," McEwin said. "But when you add those things together, it has a major impact in the state and nation's economy."

He called it a "valuable service."

"It adds to the economy and the economic well-being of Victoria County," McEwin said.

Farmers and ranchers certainly feel the benefit of the program, but human health and safety and property owners in urban and rural areas also win.

"We get calls from people who live inside the city limits on a fairly regular basis," McEwin said. "In the last couple of months, we've done work at the city park in Victoria where vultures were causing human health and safety issues."

Victoria County's monthly fee for this service increased to $2,700 for 2013, up from the $2,400 it had been since 2011, and $2,200 from 2006-11, Pozzi said.

The money comes from the county's general fund and is paid to the Texas Wildlife Services Program.

McEwin called it a "cost-share" program.

One trapper's salary is partially funded by the county, and the remainder comes from state and federal dollars, McEwin said.

The program spawned from a partnership with U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services; Texas Agrilife Extension Service; and Texas Wildlife Damage Management Association, Inc.

McEwin has been with the agency for more than 35 years.

He said he likes working with people and helping solve problems.

"When they come to us, they usually have a genuine interest in seeing a problem resolved," McEwin said. "I believe our agency has the expertise, the knowledge and the confidence from the public to complete those assignments."



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