Q. Why do we have so many feral hogs now?
A. Feral hogs were first introduced into Texas by the explorer Hernando de Soto in the mid-1500’s. However, it was not until the 1980’s that populations of feral swine literally exploded across the state. The huge increase occurred as result of a “perfect storm”: Many hogs were moved and re-released during this time to provide a supplemental species for hunting as their popularity increased as a game animal. Also, in Texas it is legal to supplementally feed wildlife and to that end, Texans feed approximately 300 million pounds of corn alone to wildlife annually. Non-target species such as feral hogs and raccoons benefit greatly from the increase in nutrition this supplement provides and respond by producing more young with higher survival rates. Feral hogs are also smart-inefficient attempts to control their numbers make them wary and less susceptible to control measures and often result in the hogs becoming nocturnal. Lastly, feral hogs have a tremendous intrinsic rate of increase. Mature sows can have two litters per year and their female offspring can become sexually mature at 6 to 8 months of age and therefore are capable of producing a litter of their own before their first birthday!
Q. What is the best method to control feral hogs?
A. With current technology, we cannot hope to eradicate feral swine. However, applied research projects have shown that we can effectively reduce the damage that feral hogs cause. For most landowners, trapping using large traps, pre-baiting and varying baits among traps that appeal to the feral hogs’ keen sense of smell increase the odds of trapping success.
Q. What are the legal methods for controlling feral hogs?
A. Legal control methods include shooting, snaring, trapping and capture via the use of dogs that are specially trained for that purpose. These methods have shown to be useful in significantly reducing the damage feral hogs can cause. However, none of these techniques will guarantee total/permanent eradication of a hog population.
Q. How do I contact landowners to hunt on lands being damaged by feral hogs?
A. Although the Texas AgriLife Extension Service does not maintain lists of landowners offering hog hunting opportunities, Internet searches can provide a number of locations offering hog hunting for a fee. Many landowners may already be leasing their lands for the hunting of other species and therefore may be unwilling to allow access to others. Ads placed in local newspapers may be an alternative method of identifying landowners interested in hunter-provided control efforts.
Q. Can I catch a disease from feral hogs?
A. Feral hogs can carry a number of diseases, the most common being pseudorabies and swine brucellosis. Of these two diseases, swine brucellosis warrants particular concern because an infected hog can transmit the disease to humans. Hunters should take precautions by wearing rubber or latex gloves and eye wear while field dressing hogs and then thoroughly wash their hands and disinfect equipment used during that process. It is impossible to simply look at a feral hog and determine if it carries swine brucellosis, therefore better safe than sorry on all hogs field dressed! These diseases cannot be transmitted by consuming feral pork but as is the case for domestic pork products, thorough cooking (160 degrees F) is a must!
Q.How can I deal with deer and feral hogs that are depredating on my property?
A. Since feral hogs are not protected in Texas, they may be taken at any time on private property. The only license requirement for feral hogs is a hunting license. For wildlife that is protected, such as white-tailed deer, there is a depredation permit that may be issued that allows a person to kill the protected wildlife. To obtain a depredation permit, a person must clearly show that wildlife protected by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code is causing serious damage to agricultural, horticultural, or aquacultural interests or other property, or is a threat to public safety. To begin the permit application process, the person who desires to kill the protected wildlife must give written notice of the facts to the county judge of the county or to the mayor of the municipality in which the damage or threat occurs.
Q.Are there any toxicants that I can use to control feral hogs?
A. No, there are no products registered for use as toxicants for feral hog control. The Texas Department of Agriculture has successfully prosecuted landowners that have chosen to try and reduce feral hog populations via the use of toxicants. Don’t do it–it is illegal!
Q. Can I sell the hogs that I trap off my property?
A.Yes. Many landowners chose to recoup some of their investment in equipment and time by selling some or all of the feral hogs they trap to “buying stations”. To find the buying station nearest you, consult your county Extension agent or contact the nearest Texas Animal Health Commission office.The price paid varies with the market, but usually the largest hogs are worth the most per pound. Buying stations then transport the feral hogs to one of several processing facilities found within the state. Each hog is inspected before processing and the various cuts can be found on restaurant menus in the U.S. as well as exported for consumption in Europe and Asia.
Q. Can feral hogs be hunted on Sunday, at night, year round, or with dogs?
A. Hogs can be hunted 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. They can be hunted at night and year round. Also, dogs can be used to take these animals.
Q. Do I need a hunting license to hunt feral hogs?
A. The answer is “it depends”. The Texas Legislature has granted landowners some relief by stating that “landowners and their designated agents” can control feral hogs causing property damage by any legal means without benefit of a hunting license. However, for those individuals that are hunting feral hogs solely for recreational purposes, a Texas hunting license is required. If in doubt, consult with the game warden assigned to the county where the control/hunting activity will take place.
Q. Can I hunt feral hogs anytime?
A. Yes, as long as you have permission form the landowner or within designated times on public land. In general, there is no closed season or bag limit and feral hogs can be hunted anytime, day or night. However, if hunting between dusk and daylight, give the local game warden a courtesy call in advance to let them know that you will be hunting at night with lights.