By Kathi Bliss
In an effort to quell the destruction brought on by the ever-growing population of feral hogs in Caldwell and Hays Counties, the Texas AgriLife Extension Service has recently taken steps to introduce a program that will offer residents not only relief from the hogs, but rewards for their efforts.
To that end, Plum Creek Watershed Coordinator Nick Dornak announced recently, the Extension offices have introduced a feral hog bounty program, which will not only pay for feral hogs “taken,” but will offer prizes to the hunters that present the most hog-tails during the program period.
Working with the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board and the Plum Creek Watershed Partnership, the AgriLife Extension Office has secured a $2 bounty for every feral hog tail submitted between Oct. 1, 2012, and Dec. 31, 2012.
A training workshop on the program will be held at the Luling Foundation Farm on Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012, beginning at 5:30 p.m. During the program, interested participants will learn about the history and biology of feral hogs, as well as control techniques, laws and regulations governing the taking of the hogs, and the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Hog Out County Grant Program, which is in part responsible for the introduction of the bounty program.
In recent years, the population of feral hogs in Caldwell and Hays Counties has continued to skyrocket. In addition to the physical damage the hogs cause to fields and crops, hogs have been directly related to a number of automobile accidents in rural areas of Caldwell County.
Further, experts say, a decrease in water quality in the Plum Creek Watershed can be directly traced to the County’s rising feral hog population.
Figures released earlier this month by the Texas AgriLife Extension reflect that feral hogs are responsible for upwards of $52 million in agricultural losses each year in Texas.
The population, estimated at 2.6 million head throughout the state, can only be maintained with a “harvest” rate that approaches 66 percent annually for the next five years. An even higher rate would be required to reduce the population and stem the tide.
Currently, annual harvest rates hover around 29 percent.
The first-of-its-kind bounty program is designed to encourage Caldwell County residents to help manage those numbers.
Beginning on Oct. 20, 2012, Salt Flat Feed and Mercantile, in Luling, along with Caldwell County Farm and Ranch, in Lockhart, will be verifying feral hog tails, issuing bounty payments and registering participants for the end-of-year prizes, which include gift cards, deer corn, and two grand-prize Maurader Hog Lights provided by Cabelas.
Participants do not need to be Caldwell County residents to collect the feral hog bounties and receive entries into the end-of-year drawings. However, anyone presenting a hog tail for bounty should be prepared to identify the approximate location in Caldwell County where the hog was taken.
For information on the feral hog bounty program or to register for the Oct. 16 workshop, contact Dornak at (512) 213-7389 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For the latest information on the Hog Out activities in Caldwell County, or to learn more about the environmental impact of feral hogs, visit the Plum Creek Watershed Partnership at pcwp.tamu.edu.