Like fire ants, feral hogs may be here to stay

By Bob Hallmark - bio | email

LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - Texans have tried trapping them, shooting them, even aerial hunting, but the problem of the feral hog population continues. What's next? Try to get them to take a birth control pill? Researchers at Texas A&M are trying to do just that.

It's estimated that there are nearly 2 million feral hogs in Texas, and are doing $50,000,000 in damage to the state each year.

"It doesn't go away because they are so destructive and they do a lot of damage to people's pastures for growing hay destruction to crops," said wildlife biologist, Charlie Muller, of Texas Parks and Wildlife.

"There's two types of people in Texas: those that have feral hogs and those that are going to have them," said Gregg County Agri-life extension agent, Dennis Smith.

Texas A&M researchers are working on a birth control pill that would be administered through feeding sites.

"It's one of the options that's being looked at," Smith said.

"There are several obstacles: one is that they are very prolific when they have offspring anywhere from six to 10 or 12...they're great survivors," said Muller.

But, the research is faltering. Tests have had no effect on large hogs, and there is no way to keep the contraceptive from other species, including us.

"A lot of the feral hog meat is consumed," said Smith. "There is a market for feral hogs."

Now, experts say feral hogs are threatening the wild turkey population by eating the eggs.

"We find their nests have been destroyed by feral hogs," Muller said.

"A combination of several methods really will be the most effective way to control hogs," Smith said.

Like the fire ant, feral hogs may be here to stay.

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