Feral hogs moving into urban areas in Texas

IRVING, Texas (AP) – Some Texas cities are going to the
hogs.

Neighbors in a Dallas suburb have certainly felt that way since
seeing their well-manicured lawns uprooted and sprinkler systems
destroyed by packs of hefty feral hogs – beasts that once caused
problems mainly for Texas farmers and ranchers.

“I think people expect this to be a rural problem,” Texas
Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples said Thursday in Irving,
where the city has captured nearly 250 feral hogs since October
when they first were discovered roaming around. “This shows that
in rural and urban Texas … the lines that divide us are fewer and
fewer.”

Arlington and Dallas are among cities along the Trinity River
that also have reported problems with wild hogs that weigh several
hundred pounds, Staples said.

Wildlife officials say the hogs are now starting to plague urban
areas because of changing habitats and prolific reproduction. Texas
has up to 2 million of the hairy beasts, about half the nation’s
population, and state officials say they cause about $400 million
in damage each year.

Although not all feral hogs have tusks, for years the animals
have been a menace in rural areas by shredding cornfields, eating
calves and damaging fruit trees _ even breaking through barbed-wire
fences, said Texas Farm Bureau spokesman Gene Hall. They also wreck
ecosystems by wallowing in riverbeds and streams.

“They can do more damage than a bulldozer,” Hall said.

Methods to stop the problem have failed, including a pig
birth-control pill studied by a veterinarian and researcher. The
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering allowing hunters in
helicopters to shoot wild hogs at a wildlife refuge in Central
Texas, saying they keep destroying the habitat.

Arlington has been aware of feral hogs in its community for
about four years, said Ray Rentschler, field supervisor for
Arlington’s Animal Services. But the city didn’t start trapping
them until two years ago, when they started roaming into parks and
frightening joggers and nearby homeowners.

“When you’ve got a herd of 300-pound pigs in your neighborhood,
it tends to makes people feel nervous,” Rentschler said Thursday.
“We want our citizens to feel safe.”

The city has trapped about 30 hogs, although Rentschler said he
believes many more are roaming parts of the city. Captured pigs are
humanely euthanized, he said.

In Irving, residents in a neighborhood near a park were alarmed
last fall when they found their yards unearthed by what appeared to
have been a bulldozer. Residents first suspected vandals until
someone saw animal tracks, and one neighbor later spotted a pack of
hogs trotting down the street on another night.

“You never think of a pig doing the extent of the damage that
was done,” said Sharie La Vail, whose yard was among the hardest
hit.

Irving then started trapping the animals – the largest weighing
in at 375 pounds. Irving, which contracts with a wildlife services
company to control its hog problem, then takes the hogs to a meat
processing company.

Although city officials believe the problem is under control and
residents have not seen a hog for months, some in Irving remain on
the lookout.

“If you do wake up at night, you look out the window, because
you just don’t know,” La Vail said. “I think they outnumber
us.”

 

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