LA MARQUE — The feral hog population is a problem across Texas — including Galveston County.

These creatures can grow up to 36 inches tall and surpassing 300 pounds. They are the bane of farmers and landowners alike.

A feral hog management seminar will be Saturday at the Galveston County Extension Office in La Marque to address the explosion of the population.

“Evidence of feral hog activity and damage is observed frequently in many watersheds throughout Texas” Mark Tyson, AgriLife Extension wildlife associate at College Station, said. “At least 134 million acres within the state have the potential to be impacted by an estimated 2.6 million feral hogs.”

Texas Parks and Wildlife Game Warden Mack Chambers estimates the feral hog population in Galveston County at 1,000. Chambers said the land near Jack Brooks Park in Hitchcock, areas near the Waste Management landfill off FM 1764 and both High Island and Goat Island are known spots with feral hogs.

When searching for food, hogs will use their snouts to dig or root around in the soil. This rooting, combined with the wallowing habits of hogs, can cause extensive damage to property.

“Along with habitat degradation due to their rooting and wallowing behavior, fecal waste from feral hogs increases the levels of bacteria and nutrients entering the environment and surrounding waterways,” said Charriss York, Dickinson Bayou program coordinator with the Texas Coastal Watershed Program.

Hogs were introduced to Texas by Hernando De Soto, a Spanish explorer, in the mid-1500s. It was not until the 1980s that the population exploded. One reason: Texans feed wildlife. According to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Texans feed about 300 million pounds of corn to wildlife annually.

Feral hogs can reproduce rapidly. Mature sows can have two litters a year, with an average of five or six piglets per litter. Female offspring become sexually active at 6 to 8 months and can then produce their own litter before they have reached their first birthday.

Wild hogs have not been shown to be aggressive toward humans. There have only been four documented deaths from hog attacks in the U.S. since the 1880s.

But there is a concern of disease transmission from swine to livestock and humans. The most common diseases found in feral hogs are pseudorabies and swine brucellosis. Swine brucellosis is of particular concern because an infected hog can transmit the disease to humans.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension recommends hunters should take precautions by wearing rubber or latex gloves and eye wear while field dressing hogs and thoroughly wash their hands and disinfect equipment used in the process.

“With no hunting seasons or bag limits, feral hogs can be taken by any method any time of the year,” said Phoenix Rogers, county extension agent for agriculture and natural resources in Galveston County. “Legal methods for controlling hogs include shooting, snaring, trapping and use of specially trained hunting dogs.

“Even though there are no hunting seasons or bag limits, individuals are required to have a hunting license and permission from the landowner to hunt hogs. Also, individuals hunting at night with lights must notify their local game warden beforehand.”

The seminar is sponsored by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board in coordination with the Texas Coastal Watershed Program and the Dickinson Bayou Watershed Partnership.

Three continuing education units in the general category will be offered during the program for Texas Department of Agriculture Pesticide License holders.

“Increased participation in control efforts by both private and public landowners will help reduce the number of feral hogs living in the watershed — thus reducing their impact on the health of the bayou and its tributaries,” Rogers said.


At a glance

WHAT: Feral hog management seminar

WHEN: 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Galveston County AgriLife Extension Office, 4102-B Main St., in La Marque

COST: Preregistration is $10 per person by Wednesday and $20 per person thereafter. Cost includes lunch and refreshments.

CONTACT: Call 281-309-5068 or email melissa.anderson@co.galveston.tx.us

(12) comments

Robert Buckner

I do not know of any area in the county immune from these hogs.

Marylee Ellison

We walk the dogs in Jack Brooks Park in Hitchcock and there was a herd of black feral hogs which from a distance, looked like a pack of Rottweilers --we regularly saw signs of them rutting (sp) in the soil, leaving large areas of ruination in their paths. Haven't seen them lately but it was frightening to see these large creatures running in a pack when we were walking and unarmed w/3 dogs. Heard the county was putting out traps for them. Would like an update from anyone witih any information --I wouldn't walk alone on those back trails after that.

Lars Faltskog

Here's an interesting link:

http://www.hoghuntinghoghunting.com/?gclid=CImsyb6M5LkCFazm7AodtWcAig

Sounds like more folks could have wild hog hunting events.

George Croix

Absent killing them by some method or other, there's nothing to stop them from becoming the New Rat.
Note to parents and pet owners:
A big hog is perfectly capable of killing Fido, and Little Johnny. And YOU if they can get you down and go to work on you with those front hooves. There won't be a lot left later to ID.
Not common, because they 'usually' shy away from people. Not unheard of either, because with any species some members don't read the script.
Best to not take a chance on being an anamoly.

Marylee Ellison

Thanks for the article --missed it in
GDN!

Steve Fouga

Robert Buckner -- You said no place in the County is immune to the hogs. Does this mean they are on Galveston Island?

My sister has 360 acres south of San Antonio. Cattle, oil, etc. Their record haul in one year is 98 hogs, all trapped alive and then sold to a meat processor. My mom lives in Katy. Hogs routinely tear up golf courses and green space there, even peoples' yards. My ex-inlaws live in Lipan, 60 miles west of Fort Worth, on about 170 acres -- fences and vegetation torn up by hogs. My uncle in Amarillo says they come right into town, messing up parks and lawns. Hogs are a big deal in TX. Hope they don't make it to the Island, if they're not already here!

Gary Miller

Too many people think feral hogs are not fit to eat. Actually they have healthir diets than farm raised hogs.
My son has a little farm in central Texas. He kills and eats several a year. I've had some of his kill and can't tell much difference from farm raised pork except they aren't as fat. Makes great sausage and tomallies.
The state has set up processing stations that provide feral pork to food banks and other free food organizations. They accept whole fresh killed and live trapped hogs.
There is no season or kill limits on feral hogs. Some farmers and ranchers are offering free hunting for them. Most only ask that hunters use good judgement on their property.
AR 15 type guns are a prefered tool for hog hunting.

If they aren't on the Island yet they soon will be. Islanders will learn Coyotes are less trouble than feral hogs.
When the public learns feral hogs are good to eat we might get some control.

Lars Faltskog

I HOG ought to know. LOL

Morrow Cummings

I have been an avid hog hunter for years and have offer a few "corrections" to the article. I probably kill fifty a year in Victoria.
1) Galveston County has way more than 1,000 hogs. They have no idea how many.
2) Hogs are nocturnal, meaning, if you aren't hunting them with lights, you don't see them.
3) They are not dangerous unless cornered or you threaten their young. Then they will cut your legs to ribbons with their tusks. Lotsa stitches.
4) The younger the hog, the tastier it is on the pit. After 80 pounds, it is hard to eat.
5) A sow that is nursing or is "in season" smells horrible, as does the meat.
6) a sow can have up to 15 piglets at a time and can birth 3 times a year. That equates to 45 piglets a year. Consider half of those are sows, that means 22 of the newborn can then have 45 piggies each. Do the math and you'll see that 1,000 hogs in the county is a way-too-low stab.
7) And finally, serious hog hunting is as hard as any hunting on this continent. Unless you are using a large caliber rifle (AR-15's are too small for a body shot), you have to shoot them in the ear to drop them. They are built like a miniature rhino with a skull that is as thick as plywood, and armor covering their front quarters. I shot one with a .223 running straight at me and hit him between the eyebrows; it stunned him and he got up and ran away. The 55 gr bullet richoche'd off his thick skull. Now I use a .260 for body shots and a very well-tuned 22-250 for ear shots, depending how I am hunting.

Steve Fouga

Morrow -- I'll probably get a chance to hunt south of San Antonio this fall. We hunt deer from stands overlooking oats and feeders. I've only seen hogs come into the oats once in several years of hunting, right at dusk. If I wanted to specifically target hogs (rather than as a bonus while hunting deer), what's your advice on bait? Is it possible to walk them up during the day without dogs, or are they too wary?

If I stand hunt, it'll be with either a .308 or .280. If walking, it'll be a .358 Win. No .223s.

George Croix

More and more in the last couple of years we've got hogs out, singly and in herds, in broad daylight on our lease, not just dawn or dusk or night. Odd behavior. Especially that at least 2 of the big black boars have actually acted agressively and approached people trail walking.
Would love to put a shot in each and send them off to A&M for some testing, if they would, to see if anything unusual is going on physiologically in their little piggy brains.
Started right after the worst of the last drought, coincidence or not.
Our lease is NOT approved by PETA...[beam][beam]

Centerpointe Moderator

Jake, I can't imagine them NOT being on Galveston Island. Twenty years ago, Pelican Island was positively walking away with them. I haven't been out there much in recent years, but I bet they're still there in force.

I have yet to see evidence of them in the parts of north Galveston County where I hike, bike, and walk my dog. However, they are generally everywhere. Yes they are nocturnal but if you're outside for any reason during the day in less-developed areas of land, it's not uncommon to startle a sleeping pile of them. And if you're outside in the evening, you'll cross paths with them sooner or later. This morning, I posted a tale of how they use to hassle us in north Clear Lake.
:-)

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.