The hogs - which sometimes weigh more than 300 pounds - destroy crops, trample fences and eat anything in their path. They are basically nature’s bulldozer.
Goliad County is entering the second month of the three-month effort to control hogs for the Texas Department of Agriculture “Hog Out” feral hog abatement program. The county entered the statewide contest with the approval of the Goliad County Commissioners’ Court and the program is being administered through the Goliad County Wildlife Management Association.
Grants will be awarded to participating counties. Goliad County placed fifth last year and received $7,500. The WMA also voted to add $1,500 to the hog bounty fund since it has been depleted after just one month with a budget of $1,500 or 300 hogs.
Feral hogs are not a game or non-game species in Texas. Instead, feral hogs are considered exotic livestock as described by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department code. They actually fall under the ownership of the landowner and not the citizens of the state. Because of this distinction, you can control feral hogs on your property without a hunting license.
If you are hunting feral hogs for trophy or food, trapping or setting snares, a hunting license is required. TPWD outlines license requirements and specific legal hunting methods in its annual hunting and fishing regulations publication, the outdoor annual. There is not a bag limit nor is there a season. It is legal to hunt at night with the use of a spotlight and night vision, but it is a good idea to call your local game warden in advance and possibly the Goliad County Sheriff’s Office.
It is also legal to use suppressors (silencers) on firearms to hunt feral hogs, but an Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms form must be completed at purchase. Also, just last year, a new law went into effect that made it legal for landowners to have a third-party hunt on their property out of a helicopter, now making it affordable for the landowner to contract one of the most effective methods to control feral hogs. However, a permit through TPWD to hunt feral hogs by air is still required.
The Texas Animal Health Commission regulates the movement of feral hogs, holding facilities and some aspects of hunting preserves. If you are not transporting hogs to an approved holding facility, or to slaughter and you are crossing county lines, you will need a permit to do so, basically making it illegal to release feral hogs once trapped.
Ironically, it is still legal to domesticate feral hogs, but you must contact the TAHC. It is still illegal to poison feral hogs, a law regulated through U.S. Fish and Wildlife. That makes a half dozen government agencies that play some part in feral hogs.
For more information, go to the Coping with Feral Hogs website at feralhogs.tamu.edu/.