’Tis the season to control feral hogs
Wet, mild weather improved winter pastures during the last week of January, according to Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel.
The winter storm that struck Feb. 1 brought more moisture, which should benefit crops, but the extreme cold was expected to further stress livestock.
But if there’s a silver lining to weather this time of year, it’s that conditions are optimal for feral hog control, said Billy Higginbotham, AgriLife Extension wildlife specialist.
“February is a month when we really need to concentrate control of feral hogs for a number of reasons,” Higginbotham said.
This is because during the last 30 to 45 days of winter, native food supplies are becoming scarce and hogs are on the move in search of something to eat, he said.
“This makes them more vulnerable to some of our control techniques, such as trapping, shooting, and snaring, because they are moving and in search of food,” he said.
No one really knows how many feral hogs there are in Texas, Higginbotham said.
“But we do know that regardless of the population out there, the economic damage can be drastically reduced by adopting best management practices,” he said.
For ground-based and aerial hunters, the advantages of feral hogs being on the move are obvious, he said.
In areas like East Texas, where there is more cover, the name of the game is trapping, ground-shooting, and snaring, Higginbotham said. For trappers, it’s important to fit the size of the trap to the size of the herd, which is called a “sounder.”
He recommended that landowners “get the hogs on bait.” This expression means getting them used to visiting a location for food, usually shelled corn. Then, using automatic cameras or other means, the landowner needs to estimate the size of the hog herd and construct a trap size accordingly.
It’s not too late this year to get started on getting the hogs on bait, he said, but even it were, it’s a good idea to do it anytime a landowner sees signs of feral hog damage.
More information on controlling feral hogs can be found at http://feralhogs.tamu.edu/ .