Instead of mailing out the survey in East Texas, Higginbotham and county Extension agents, conducted the survey at pesticide re-certification meetings throughout the region from October 2003 through January 2004. Such meetings are attended primarily by rural landowners, particularly those who are actively engaged in agriculture.
The survey consisted of 15 questions about feral hogs, most of which were multiple-choice. The questions addressed such issue of control and how it was conducted, whether hogs were considered an asset or a liability, and property damage attributable to hogs.
One question asked what year the landowners first noticed feral hogs on their property. The counts gradually increased from five new sightings before 1978, to 17 in the 1978-1983 time span. The following 5-year time spans, 1984-1988 and 1989-1993 show 24 to 56, respectively. Then, the number of respondents who reported seeing feral hogs for the first time jumped to 109 for the 1994-1998 time span. And 90 of survey respondents reported seeing hogs in the last five years to date.
"The reports leveled off some for the last five years, but it's still clear the dramatic rise of first-time sightings continued," Higginbotham said.
Why the steady climb and then an increase? Did the feral hog population suddenly reach some sort of critical mass and then explode? Or was it just a matter of an increased awareness of feral hogs?
Higginbotham frankly admits this is not known for sure, but from earlier attempts at a hog census, he expects it's just as it seems: Increased awareness by landowners may be play a role, but the numbers are definitely rising.
"Usually how landowners become aware they hav
Contact: Robert Burns
Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications