By Elsa Maxey
Fort Bend County is taking decisive action to go after feral hogs as part of a state effort, and funds from the Texas Department of Agriculture may come this direction as early as next month to trim down the feral hog population locally. Feral hogs have been known to cause extensive damage to property owned by those residing in the county.
The estimated 2.6 million feral hogs in Texas, accounting for the largest feral hog population in the U.S., have their numbers frustrating local residents with their destructive nature when they wreak havoc on landscaping, fences, roads, livestock, pastures, crops and other areas.
What’s more, their numbers are reported to be continuing to increase because of their high reproductive potential and the lack of natural predators.
The Texas Department of Agriculture, which is administering a Hog Out County Grants Program, is encouraging counties in Texas to make a concentrated and coordinated effort to reduce the feral hog population and the damage caused by the animals. Last week, Fort Bend County Commissioners authorized taking all appropriate action on a resolution to seek 2012 funds afforded by the state’s Hog Out program. Now that this action has been taken, that means Fort Bend County is eligible to receive the funds. As part of the process, Fort Bend County will need to come up with a plan to impact the feral hog population which will include documentation. It will also need to include future plans for continuing the effort after grant funds are expended.
At year’s end, Fort Bend County sought affidavits documenting data from October through December 2011 to determine the number of feral hogs “taken in” in the county. Taken in refers to a feral hog killed or trapped, snared or captured and intended for immediate slaughter. Hogs trapped for other purposes such as transfers were not considered to be taken since the state is attempting to reduce their numbers. The reported data to be submitted by Fort Bend County as part of the grant request will be factored into the approval process.
The state agency announced that it will award the grant funds after all applications are processed and its calendar shows this will be done next month. If awarded, the money will be available to Fort Bend County for feral hog abatement expenditure use during this calendar year. The funds are intended to assist in the implementation of feral hog abatement practices. The grant amount sought by Fort Bend County is unknown at this time. James Wenzel, Fort Bend County’s Chief of Staff, will serve as the county’s agent with the Texas Department of Agriculture for this effort.