With an estimated 2.6 million feral hogs causing an estimated $500 million in damage to rural and urban areas of Texas each year, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples today proudly announced Hardeman County as the winner of the 2011statewide Hog Out Challenge. The challenge awards grants to the five Texas counties that remove the most hogs and record the highest participation in feral hog abatement programs. The 2011 challenge resulted in the removal of 12,632 hogs.

“I have put feral hogs on the Texas Most Wanted List,” Commissioner Staples said. “We need to track down these destructive pests and eliminate them. Not only are feral hogs a costly nuisance to agricultural operations and wildlife habitats, but they are a serious threat to the traveling public and are increasingly finding their way into urban areas and destroying residents’ yards, public parks, golf courses and more. I thank all Hog Out Challenge participants for recognizing the need to join forces to control these depredating hogs in a coordinated and concentrated manner.”

The winning 2011 Hog Out Challenge counties – Hardeman, Clay, Lavaca, Callahan and Goliad – will share a total of $60,000 to continue their feral hog eradication efforts. As the 2011 Hog Out Challenge winner, Hardeman County will receive $20,000 to help fund ongoing feral hog abatement initiatives.

“Feral hogs have become a major problem in Hardeman County over the last 15 years,” said Hardeman County Extension Agent Steven Sparkman. “These pests have made it almost impossible to grow peanuts or grain sorghum, and they’ve also disrupted our cattle industry by destroying hay and crops. We intend to use the TDA grant to educate producers and trappers about different techniques available to continue improving our eradication efforts.”

The extended three-month 2011 Hog Out Challenge built on the momentum of 2010’s inaugural month-long event. In 2010, there were 3,859 hogs taken.

Throughout the year, TDA works with the Wildlife Services branch of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, which removes thousands of hogs annually through various feral hog abatement strategies. The effort results in an estimated savings of more than $4 million to Texas landowners.

Landowners and counties are encouraged to call their local AgriLife Extension office for information on feral hog control measures.

Texas Feral Hog Facts (source: Texas AgriLife Extension Service)

  • Feral hogs cause an estimated $500 million in damages annually, including $52 million in agricultural damages.
  • There are an estimated 2.6 million feral hogs in Texas.
  • Feral hogs are predators of lambs, kid goats, baby calves, newborn fawns and ground-nesting birds. They also compete for food and space with many native species of wildlife.
  • Feral hogs commonly destroy urban yards, parks and golf courses, as well as rangeland, pastures, crops, fencing, wildlife feeders and other property. Additionally, they contribute to E. Coli and other diseases in Texas streams, ponds and watersheds.
  • Vehicle collisions with feral hogs cause an estimated $1,200 in damage per collision, and endanger the lives of drivers and passengers.