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 firstname.lastname@example.org