A blight on the land of most ranch-owners in Texas is feral hog overpopulation. This post is an overview of wild pigs and their effects on the land you own or are looking to own.
Not only do they tear up the land, but feral hogs can spread E Coli and other diseases to humans and other animals, kill native species, and contaminate water sources. This invasive species can thrive in 79% of Texas and their population continues to increase exponentially. A study from 2004 estimated that Texas had around $52 million in damages annually resulting from feral hogs. Now, that estimation reaches as high as $1.5 billion nationwide. Needless to say, their presence within Texas is detrimental to ranching and landowning.
To get an idea of the scope of the feral hog issue, the population of wild pigs in Texas alone is estimated to be around 3 million. At the rate they reproduce, Texas would have to eliminate 66% of the population (2 million) every year in order to keep the population from growing any more. This makes it entirely unrealistic to completely eradicate the feral hog population within Texas in the near future. That being said, there are measures being taken to help ranchers, farmers, and landowners manage the population on their own lands.
In May of this year, Senate Bill 317 was passed that allows for hogs to be hunted without a license in an attempt to stymie the population growth. A multitude of pig traps have been developed as a way to try and outsmart the invasive species.
Despite our best attempts, feral hogs are a persisting issue within Texas and one of the most economically devastating blights on landowners. Unfortunately, removing wild pigs from your property is something to expect when owning land, and something you must fight to keep under control. That being said, with steps being made to make population control easier for landowners, there is hope for a more manageable future.
For more detailed research about feral hogs within Texas, check out some of these resources:
AgriLife Today - This A&M run blog discusses the feral hog issue and its economic and ecological ramifications on Texas.
Smithsonian - This article from the Smithsonian goes into more detail about what crops and livestock are negatively affected by feral hogs.