Kay Ledbetter, AgriLife Today
Dec 29, 2020 AgriLife Extension’s Tomeček named chair-elect of National Wild Pig Task Force
When it comes to “wild pig wars,” Wildlife Specialist John Tomeček , Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service , Thrall, is leading the charge in Texas. A recent nomination and selection will utilize his tactics to wage war nationally as chair of the National Wild Pig Task Force.
“John’s drive, desire and leadership potential led to his nomination to the national task force leadership position,” said Michael Bodenchuk, director of Texas Wildlife Services and Texas state director, U.S. Department of Agriculture – Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services , San Antonio.
“John has leveraged state and cooperative funding to develop better educational programs, refine methods for collecting damage data and demonstrate successful methods to Texans. It was natural for him to lead the national task force.”
AgriLife Extension and its predecessor agencies have been leaders in wild pig management for many years, Tomeček said, starting with the work of longtime AgriLife Extension wildlife and fisheries specialist Billy Higginbotham.
Bodenchuk, who nominated Tomeček, said when Higginbotham retired, Tomeček stepped into two roles. One was a professional role at wild pig management conferences, providing good science; the other was on the wild pig scene, leading efforts on research and public outreach.
Tomeček first assumed a leadership role in the war on wild pigs when he was asked to co-chair the Texas Wild Pig Task Force, which coordinates with government agencies and commodity organizations to help direct management, research and outreach activities. This group also provides information and feedback to the Texas Legislature as requested.
As wild pig issues grew across the nation, a dedicated Wild Pig Conference was born, where scientists from across the U.S. exchange information. After a number of years, the National Wild Pig Task Force was formed to act as a national coordinating body to advance the science of wild pig management across the U.S.
The task force is a technical, scientific and leadership alliance of state, federal, provincial and private conservation partners working to reduce free-ranging populations of wild pigs in North America.
According to the group, management of invasive wild pigs has arguably become one of the greatest wildlife management challenges facing natural resource professionals and landowners. The damage these animals cause to forestry, agriculture and natural resources has been tremendous and is often measured in billions of dollars of damage each year.
Texas has been the leader in wild pig issues and management for quite a long time, Tomeček said.
“That’s good and bad,” he said. “In many ways, we are the leader because we have the worst pig problems in the country. At the same time, this allows us to be a leader in helping other states. We can say ‘Here’s where you’re at; your pig problems are Texas circa 1987. Here’s what you need to do, and here are the pitfalls ahead.’ It allows those of us in Texas to guide meaningful pig management across the country.”
Pictured below is John Tomeček.