What is in this article?:
• In Texas, and other states plagued the most by large feral swine populations, notably California and Florida, millions in public and private funds have been spent through the years in an effort to manage the problem.
• But as the problem escalates, so does the need for greater resources to fight them.
FERAL HOGS are causing heavy damage to Southwest cropland and pastures.
Texas numbers are high
Just across the state line, rural property owners in Texas are reporting feral swine in the across the state are increasingly becoming a major problem and economic concern.
Many Texas farmers say feral hogs have become their worst pest problem. Large numbers of pigs routinely destroy cropland, pollute stock tanks and streams and tear up pastureland.
“We need a solution,” said Erik Akins, a northeast Texas grain farmer near Van Alstyne. “We need technology.” He said traps are not enough to control the population. “And it’s hard to get them to go into traps.”
Jay Norman, Wolfe City, Texas, said he began to see more feral hogs after Christmas than he’d seen all year. “I’ve seen bunches of 25 or more and they all look exactly alike.”
“We didn’t see many at all last summer,” added Pat Fallon. “Lately, the worst problems have been in our fields closer to town.”
“We don’t see them for awhile and then we let our guard down,” said Kenneth Griffin, who farms near Gunter, Texas.
Chico Light says the problem has become severe. “I’ve seen as many as 40 or 50 in a group,” he said. “They’re getting into everything, even wheat fields. They are worse every year.”
Farmers would like to see new approaches to a problem that continues to get worse. Sterilization should be considered, Akins said. They also would not rule out toxins, which are currently illegal, and would support research on sodium nitrate and the experimental hopper.
“We need a solution,” Light said.
Farmers hope that efforts in New Mexico and elsewhere at least point to potential solutions.
While total eradication of the New Mexico feral swine population may be a lofty goal, participants in the New Mexico Feral Swine Eradication Team say they are not wasting any time. May says six new federal employees were recently hired to work with the program and a team of researchers has already studied the areas where eradication efforts will take place to identify the best locations for traps and hunting expeditions.
“The sooner we get started the better success we will have,” May said.
In the meantime, neighboring officials in Arizona, Oklahoma and Colorado say they will keep an eye on how the program develops in New Mexico — in hopes of being able to initiate their own management and control programs to fight the ever growing problems associated with feral swine.