Whether you refer to them as feral hogs or wild pigs, Sus scrofa is a species that is negatively impacting nearly every part of Texas.
Not only do wild pigs wreak havoc on pastures, fields and golf courses alike, they contaminate our water sources and destroy native species. They can also spread disease to both man and beast. Wild pigs cause widespread damage to agricultural lands by destroying crops, the depredation of livestock, and competing with wildlife for resources.
A 2004 Texas A&M AgriLife Extension survey study estimated the annual damage done in Texas by these unwanted invaders as $52 million. Current estimates of the damage they cause nationwide range from $800 million to $1.5 billion annually.
Texas has an estimated 3 million wild pigs
They say everything is bigger in Texas, and this includes our pig population. The U.S. is estimated to have 4 million wild pigs, and we’ve got well over half of the pig population in the Lone Star State alone, based on a 2012 study. That study had Texas at 2.6 million; current population models predict our actual figure is now closer to 3 million. Wild pigs are also largely nocturnal, which means you are more likely to see the damage they do than see the animals themselves.
You do not need a license to hunt wild pigs in Texas
On May 31, Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 317 into law. This permit allows any landowner, landowner’s agent or lessee to take wild pigs without a hunting license. The only time a hunting license is required is on Texas public lands. Unfortunately, recreational hunting alone cannot control the wild pig problem.
Wild hogs spread E. coli and other diseases
Not only can wild pigs infect our water resources with E. coli, but they may also carry 15 other diseases, some of which can be transmitted to people. Swine brucellosis and tularemia are two particular concerns to humans. There is also the threat of tick-borne diseases like Lyme and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. That said, when handling a dead pig make sure protective latex gloves and eyewear are worn and avoid bodily fluids. Like all pork, wild pig meat must be cooked to a minimum of 160 degrees before it can be safely consumed.
To learn more about wild pigs, AgriLife Extension has online courses available and links to informational videos. The Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Overton also offers a thorough online wild pig abatement and education guide .
Through the application of science-based knowledge, AgriLife Extension creates high-quality, relevant continuing education that encourages lasting and effective change.