PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

August 31, 2013

Chester Moore column: Hog expansion never ceases to amaze

Chester Moore
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR —     Growing up in the early 1980s it was rare to see hogs in Southeast Texas.



    There were scattered populations, mainly along the river bottoms with some dwelling in the marshes but their numbers were nothing like they are today.



    We have a genuine feral hog epidemic with the damaging creature found everywhere in not only our state but also spreading throughout the country. I did a radio interview two years ago for a New Jersey station whose host wanted to know how to hunt hogs. They were spreading all over his state.



    I have seen hogs just outside the city limits of Port Arthur and in the city limits of Orange and West Orange.



    These animals are highly adaptable and can live in everything from marsh to mountains and they can breed at a young age and twice a year. On top of that, very few animals prey on them once they reach adulthood so unless they are killed by humans, hogs can live to produce many generations.



    A seldom-discussed reason for the spread of hogs is the love of hunting them.



    Kansas is handling their feral hog invasion in a unique way. They have banned hunting them. That is right. It is illegal for hunters to shoot hogs in Kanas.



     The reason is they fear if hunting them is legal, then some landowners and hunters would move them into different areas for hunting purposes and so far their strategy has paid off.



     State officials are trapping and using other control methods and the population seems to be staying manageable.



    This would never work in Texas, especially now with nearly three million hogs calling the Lone Star State home but it points out a major reason for the hog’s spread.



    Hogs have been stocked on hundreds of high fenced ranches throughout the state and they never stay within those confines.  Never.



     On top of that some hunters have moved hogs and released them into open range. This coupled with the old practice of letting domestic hogs roam and recapturing them once a year has kicked Texas’ hog population into overdrive.



     Someone asked me recently if I thought it would be possible to control hogs statewide. The answer is “no”.



    That ship sailed years ago and the fact is they are extremely difficult to control in local situations as well.



    The helicopter hunts can put a dent in them in certain areas and a combination of trapping and removal by hog/dog hunters can also have an impact but the fact is there are more hogs killed in Texas now than at any point and the population hasn’t dropped.



    The only positive of this is that hunters have a great game animal available to them to hunt 365 days a year and that has no bag limit.  For those who like to spend lots of time in the field it is the perfect quarry. Don’t make the mistake of thinking it will be easy.



    If that were true, the skilled hunters of Texas would have wiped them out long ago.



(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at cmooreoutdoors@gmail.com . You can hear Him on “Moore Outdoors” on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at www.klvi.com.)