Author: Kali Venable
Published: October 19, 2019
A wildlife specialist will discuss how landowners can help decrease Texas’s feral hog population during the 2019 South Texas Farm and Ranch Show.
John Tomecek, an assistant professor and extension wildlife specialist with Texas A&M University, will give a lecture on feral hog control to program attendees from 1:30-4:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Victoria Community Center.
Tomecek’s areas of expertise includes overabundant and nuisance animals, management of game animals, wildlife diseases, wildlife management and whitetail deer. He has been involved in the state’s feral hog control issue for about a decade, he said.
Tomecek plans to start the discussion with the history of wild pigs in Texas and how the state became so overpopulated with them.
The Texas Department of Wildlife estimates that the feral hog population is in excess of 1.5 million in the state, though Tomecek said the numbers are difficult to track. Feral hogs are prolific breeders that are capable of breeding at six months of age and can live up to eight years, although they have an average lifespan of about four or five years.
“The numbers are extremely high here and could be anywhere from three to five million,” he said. “We don’t have an exact number because there is not a good way in present to survey or funding mechanisms to conduct regular surveys, but it suffices to say that we have more pigs than any other state.”
Feral hogs hurt everyone in the agriculture industry and private landowners, Tomecek said. The animals destroy crops and farming land, prey on livestock, compete for food and can transmit infectious diseases to other animals. The biggest threat they pose is habitat destruction and alteration.
“We’ve seen quite a decline in meat production in some areas just due to the damage on the ground from the pigs,” he said.
Once attendees understand the extent of the problem, Tomecek plans to focus on the behaviors of wild pigs and how those behaviors can be used as a control method to reduce the population.
“The problem is bad and gets worse all the time, so the best thing we can do is get private landowners contributing to removing as many pigs as possible,” he said.
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