Feral Hogs

Ag Biz News Column
By: Chad Gulley
County Extension Agent–Ag/NR
Smith County

Managing Feral Hogs

 Landowner’s intent on managing their native wildlife species should have little tolerance for feral hogs.  The estimated 4 million feral hogs nationwide compete with native wildlife species for food and space.  These feral hogs also prey directly upon certain species and/or destroy their habitat.

Feral hogs damage agriculture crops, livestock, lawns, gardens, and the list goes on.  Feral hogs are omnivores meaning their diets consist of both plants and animals.  They will typically eat anything and everything.  Their diets vary and their diets change with the seasons.  This is why it is important to vary baits when trapping hogs.

Most landowners rely on shooting when attempting to control feral hogs.   Shooting, where legal, is one method of control, but will not control large populations very effectively.  This method of control is inefficient at best to control feral hog populations on your property.  Trapping offers one of the best control methods.  The traps should be large enough to accommodate the largest groups of hogs seen on the property.  These large groups of hogs are called sounders.  With large traps, there is maximum distance from the gate to the trigger in the back of the trap.  With adequate room and proper trap design, the entire sounder of hogs can potentially enter before the trap door is triggered.  For more control methods on feral hogs, visit the Texas AgriLife Extension’s Wildlife web site at http://feralhog.tamu.edu .  Here are some tips for trapping success:

*Use large traps so all the hogs in a sounder can enter before the gate is tripped.
*Utilize trail cameras to determine when is the best time to set traps to catch the majority
of the sounder.
*Construct traps without corners unless the top of the trap can be covered.  Hogs have a
tendency to pile up in a corner when humans approach, and they may climb out of the
trap.
*Use the smallest mesh feasible (4×4 inches).  The idea is to catch and retain all hogs
trapped regardless of size.
*Share one gate among many traps to reduce cost.  Set the gate in place only after hogs
are responding to the bait.
*If hogs will be hauled from the trap site, use a round or “tear drop” shape design, which
helps funnel the hogs back through the gate for loading into a trailer.
(See http://feralhogs.tamu.edu for details).
*Pre-baiting traps outside and inside is essential.  Once you see hog sign inside the trap,
set the gate and continue baiting.
*Set several traps in different locations, or coordinate trapping with neighboring
landowners.  Don’t wait until damage occurs to begin trapping hogs.
*Vary baits between traps whenever possible.  Take advantage of hogs’ acute sense of
smell by using baits/attractants with odor appeal.  Effective baits include corn, corn
fermented in water, corn fermented in beer, or mixed with fish grease, dog food, ripe
fruit, or spoiled produce.

Information on feral hogs comes through research from Dr. Billy Higginbotham, Texas AgriLife Extension’s Wildlife and Fisheries Specialist from the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Overton, Texas.

In Texas, hogs are considered free-ranging exotic animals and can be taken at any time of the year by any legal means.  You can contact the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for more details on the legal status of feral hogs.  The Texas Animal Health Commission regulates the trapping and moving of feral hogs in Texas to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

Feral hogs are well established in Texas.  Because of their adaptability, reproductive capability, and skill at survival, they appear to be here to stay.  With an integrated approach, one can control population size and keep hog damage at an acceptable level.  An acceptable level varies from landowner to landowner.

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