FERAL HOGS: East Texas cities, hunters working together to curb wild pig population

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PALESTINE, Texas (KETK) East Texas cities and hunters and banding together to tackle the feral hog issue.

“I’ll tell you how big of a problem it is,” Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller says. “It’s over 500 million dollars damage each year they cause just in our state.”

RELATED: Feral hogs destroy Memorial Cemetery in Palestine

Cities across East Texas are experiencing damage to parks, neighborhoods and cemeteries. The city of Palestine has gone as far as enlisting two hunters to either kill or scare away these wild pigs.

“We currently have two hog hunters that are working with us,” Parks & Recreation director Patsy Smith says. “They are doing a good job chasing out the hogs. They are using traps, and they are also using dogs.”

Palestine native Carlton Wiggins is one of the men tasked with hunting down these hogs. Wiggins goes out at night with four dogs and searches for these pests. Once they are located and surrounded, he sends in his two pitbulls to hold the creatures down.

“We send them in there to catch the hog. Then, we get it by the back legs and get the kill.”

Carlton Wiggins, Hunter from Palestine

The city of Palestine is already seeing results. Damage at local cemeteries has been reduced, but the city has spent precious resources to constantly repair the damage dealt to the hundreds of acres of land they maintain.

RELATED: Hunter kills 488-pound feral hog in Liberty County

“The damage they have caused is unbelievable,” Smith says. “The San Augustine [grass] they are killing…the headstones they are knocking over…they are digging way down into that grass and causing a lot of major damage.” 

This figure represents the distribution of wild pigs across Texas, by county, using data from the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study. As indicated in the map, El Paso County is the only county in Texas not occupied by feral swine as of 2019. (Texas Parks and WIldlife)

Texas A&M estimates there are about 2.6 million feral hogs in the Lone Star State. Sows are also capable of having three litters a year. That means 60 to 70 percent of the hog population must be eradicated each year just to maintain the current population.

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller believes the problem will continue to worsen unless major action is taken. 

“They’re getting in golf courses. They are in cemeteries turning over tombstones and destroying suburban yards. A lady down in South Texas got killed by a bunch of hogs. It’s a real real problem.”

RELATED: Texas woman killed by feral hogs outside home

Miller is urging East Texans to call their local representatives to put pressure on the state legislature. 

“We had a bait, a very safe bait, called warfarin. It’s rat bait or coumadin. Humans take it as a blood thinner, and it only affected hogs. There was a lot of misinformation out there. The company got sued. They took it off the market and now the legislature won’t let me register it. That’s a shame. It’s very effective and safe.”

Warfarin facts from the Texas Department of Agriculture:

  • Warfarin (Coumadin) is an FDA approved prescription medication commonly used by humans to prevent blood clots.
  • Vitamin K counteracts the effects of Warfarin.
  • Warfarin hog bait is only 1/5 the strength of over the counter rat bait.
  • Warfarin hog bait has little effect on all other animals, including house pets like dogs—to be fatal, the average dog would have to consume 176 pounds in 1 day, or 13 pounds of bait daily, for 5 days

The Texas Department of Agriculture is currently working on another chemical that would allegedly keep hogs from reproducing. 

RELATED: U.S. and Texas have ‘out of control’ population of ‘super-pigs,’ expert says

“It’s an ingredient called gossypol. It’s found in cotton seed. It will sterilize the hog. That will be a good one.”

In the meantime, Commissioner Miller encourages hunters like Wiggins to try their best to control the population. He also hopes state lawmakers will take up this issue in the next legislative session.

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