County OKs hog control application
By Miles Smith
Caldwell County commissioners this week cleared the way to participate in the application for a grant to help control the area’s feral hog population by means that include paying hunters for each hog killed.—
Guadalupe, Hays and Caldwell counties are applying for a combined $20,000 in USDA grant money in a coordinated effort to reduce the number of hogs and the damage they cause each year. The effort is being spearheaded by Nick Dornak, watershed services coordinator for the Texas State Meadows Center for Water and the Environment. Dornak also serves as the founder and administrator of the Caldwell County Feral Hog Task Force, which was founded in 2013.
“Damage is estimated at about $350 per pig per year,” said Dornak, the former coordinator for the Plum Creek Watershed Partnership in Lockhart.
The deadline for the application is Friday. The anticipated award date is April 20.
If awarded, the money will provide for education programs, coordinating trapping and hunting programs, and facilitating aerial gunning from helicopters.
The move would also reactivate the bounty program, which involves paying hunters around $5 for proof of each hog harvested. The program has been suspended since November when money from the previous grant ran out.
Dornak said hunters were required to list an address or location where hogs are killed to prevent fraud. Typically between 180-200 legitimate hunters in the county are paid each year for harvesting hogs.
But a few try to hack the system, he noted.
“We’ve had a few find tails by the side of the road and try to turn them in,” Dornak said. “We’ve let them know that ‘TxDOT’ is not an acceptable location.”
Dornak said that controlling the population was also important to the area’s water quality, citing a recent analysis of microorganisms in Plum Creek.
“Half of the bacteria there is from non-avian wildlife,” Dornak noted. “One-third of that bacteria were closely (related) to hogs. Hogs have a huge impact on water quality.”
The Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service Wildlife Services program anticipates awarding up to 20 County Feral Hog Abatement grants ranging from $5,000-$20,000 each. A total of $100,000 is available.
Caldwell County has participated in the feral hog abatement grants each year from 2012-2017, according to a draft of its application. The county received grants for feral hog abatement in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.