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East Texas feral hog numbers skyrocketed in last decade

OVERTON A Texas Cooperative Extension survey of 491 East Texas landowners indicates that feral hog populations dramatically increased during the last ten years.

Prior to the survey, it was known that feral hog numbers were rapidly rising in East Texas starting in the mid 1980s. But the survey indicated the rate of increase since the mid 1990s was nearly double of that of the early 1990s. This rapid increase came as a surprise, said Dr. Billy Higginbotham, Extension Wildlife and Fisheries Specialist, and conductor of the survey.

Another surprise for Higginbotham was the number of negative comments from landowners about feral hogs. The animals are hunted for sport in East Texas, but when those surveyed were invited to add comments at the end of the questionnaire, not one was positive.

"I expected a few to say that they liked the supplemental income they received from leasing hunting rights, but not one had this or anything else good to say about feral hogs."

One landowner wrote, for example, "I fear allowing my grandchildren to go beyond the yard as they might be attacked by wild hogs." Another noted that his neighbor "has had colts and horses cut up because of feral hogs."

Other comments ranged from a plaintive "please help" to an adamant "exterminate the things" to a constructive comment of "the state needs a program to get rid of these hogs."

But though there is a division of Extension Wildlife Services whose role is wild-animal control, its wildlife biologists have long backlogs, Higginbotham noted. And even if they weren't backlogged, no one is ever likely to eradicate feral hogs. A conservative estimate puts their numbers statewide at 1.5 million.

"We don't really know how many there are. In West Texas, aerial surveys and the like can be conducted to give a fair idea, but in East Texas they have too much escape cover," he said. Higginbotham surveyed landowners from 40 East Texas Counties. The survey questionnai
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Contact: Robert Burns
rd-burns@tamu.edu
903-834-6191
Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications
8-Apr-2004


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