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Oct 142010

From Green Right Now Reports

The Texas Department of Agriculture is launching a new campaign called “Get the Hog Outta Texas” in an effort to remove wild hogs and curb the damage done to private property by them in the state of Texas. The challenge, which runs through the end of October, will reward the county that removes the most hogs with a grant. The challenge has recruited nearly 60 counties so far.

State officials said the growing number of feral hogs, also called wild hogs, has posed a challenge for the state of Texas for decades. More recently, however, the problem has extended into urban and suburban areas. There are nearly two million wild hogs in Texas, the highest population in the United States. This number continues to grow every year due to high reproduction rates of wild hogs and a lack of natural predators.

While these animals may appear harmless, they can cause millions of dollars in damage to urban yards, parks, golf courses, crops and private property. Wild hogs can also carry diseases and contribute to E. coli in Texas water, such as streams, ponds and watersheds.

The challenge, which has recruited nearly 60 counties so far, will run through Oct. 31. A grant will be given to the counties with the most hogs removed. The announcement of the new program came Oct. 4 in Arlington at River Legacy Park. It’s one metropolitan area of the state that is being devastated by the increase in hogs, proving that the growing problem is not unique to rural Texas.

“Not only are feral hogs a costly nuisance to agricultural operations and wildlife habitats, but they are increasingly finding their way into urban areas and destroying residents’ yards, public parks and golf courses,” Ag Commissioner Todd Staples said in a statement.

“On my ranch in East Texas, I have eliminated a number of hogs and I am asking Texans around the state to step up and join the county challenge to learn about feral hogs and how best to legally hunt and trap them in their areas. These hogs, which number in the millions and are capable of breeding twice a year, wreak havoc on property and also can pose a health threat to humans through disease and automobile accidents.”

Texas Farm Bureau officials said participants should exercise caution when attempting to remove wild hogs. Safety should be the number one priority during the eradication of wild hogs, officials said.