Hog bounty ends Mon­day

Dead­line ap­proaches in statewide com­pe­ti­tion for grant to com­bat wild pig pop­u­la­tion.

Austin American-Statesman - - B METRO & STATE - By Farzad Mashhood fmash­hood@states­man.com Hogs B

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

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