Hog bounty ends Monday
Deadline approaches in statewide competition for grant to combat wild pig population.
Feral hog hunters in Hays and Caldwell counties have through the weekend to finish collecting tails as part of a statewide competition for thousands of dollars in grants aimed at culling the invasive critters.
Until Monday night, a few feed stores and offices in the two counties will collect the tails — proof of feral hog slaughter — or will accept live caged animals. Hays and Caldwell are among about two dozen counties statewide that the Texas Department of Agriculture has authorized to participate in the competition to collect the most dead or to-beslaughtered hogs.
This is the first year Hays and Caldwell counties have participated in the Hog Out grant program, which awards $20,000 to the county that kills the most hogs. Second place finishers get $15,000; third place wins $10,000. Another $15,000 is distributed among the remaining counties, based on how many hogs and tails are collected.
The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service estimates that there are 2.6 million feral hogs statewide and that they cause $52 million in agricultural losses a year, in addition to property damage. Descendants of escaped livestock dating back to when European settlers first arrived in Texas, feral hogs have been found in every county except El Paso County, and the population grows an average of 21 percent a year.
“When you have an invasive species like a feral hog, it throws things out of balance,” said Nick Dornak, watershed coordinator for the Plum Creek Watershed Partnership, which is administering the program in both Hays and Caldwell counties.
The Plum Creek Watershed, about 500 square miles almost entirely in the two counties, must combat E. coli bacteria from the hog’s feces. The animals, which can grow up to 36 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh up to 400 pounds, also damage fences and other property. They’ve posed a danger to drivers, particularly on Texas 130, Dornak said.
County commissioners in Hays and Caldwell county