USDA Feral Hog Program
With everything else going on many of you may not be aware the Federal feral hog program that will be going on in the county for the next couple of years. This program is geared toward reducing the feral hog populations in several counties within the Leon River Watershed including Comanche, Erath and Eastland Counties in our area. It also covers some other watersheds, but what happens here is most important to us. Unlike some past programs this one provides helicopter and personnel to be assigned strictly for hunting and feral hog eradication. This will help by keeping the personnel on feral hogs, they will not be pulled off for another task.
The program will have several aspects including trap loans and assistance and some education. However, for now the most important thing is to get ahold of one of our Wildlife Services technicians that will be getting folks signed-up and assisting in baiting and hunts. They are happy to work with you over the phone to get you signed-up. They also like all the information they can get, neighbors that might have hog issues, current and past damage, where damage occurs the most and even where you might think the hogs are coming from.
With Covid-19 and the fact that there are many government entities involved to make this program a success, it has been slow to get off the ground. However, it looks like everyone is getting their ducks in a row now and things should start progressing. This project is completely voluntary, no cost to landowners or the county, and you have complete control of when your land can be hunted. The three major program areas that county landowners need to consider participating in are listed below with contact information.
Removal of Feral Swine
USDA-APHIS-Wildlife Services directly controls feral swine by using a combination of trapping, shooting, and aerial shooting. They will work with landowners to sign up to allow access to their staff to control feral swine. The goal is to remove as many feral swine on as many properties as possible. This service costs the landowner nothing, and ultimately, you are in control of your property. Our technicians are Thomas O’Donnell at cell: 254-842-4259 or Brianna Graham at cell: 830-326-1429, please give them a call or feel free to give us a call at the office if you have questions
The lynch pin of ensuring support for feral swine control in the future is to show the massive extent of damages to our county from feral swine, as well as the benefit of the control we receive. Miss Hallie Halstead from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service is the damage assessor working in our area. She works with producers to determine the extent and nature of the damages from feral swine in agriculture, land, livestock, and natural resources. She wants to speak to every landowner, regardless of if they work with Wildlife Services or not or have any problems with feral swine. Allowing her to visit with you will give Congress a better idea of the extent of damages from feral swine that we experience in Texas. We encourage you to call Hallie at your convenience at (682) 498- 3720.
Under the direction of Wildlife Services staff, there will be remote-triggered traps available for loan to landowners and agricultural producers in the project areas. This will be a great opportunity to use expensive traps that may be outside the limits of your current budget, or you simply wanted to try before deciding to buy. Staff will assist in setting up traps, teaching clientele how to use them, and providing any other technical assistance necessary. This is a chance to try out this equipment and learn the best ways to use it from boot-on-the-ground experts.
I encourage you to reach out to these folks and get signed-up for the program once the leaves are off the trees and deer season winds down, I am hopeful the aerial hunts will really pickup and trapping will be very effective. Even if you own land and the hogs do not bother you, please consider you farming neighbors, hogs destroy their livelihood. Please call the office 325-356-2539 with questions.