By: Jared Timmons, James C. Cathey, Nikki Dictson, and Mark McFarland, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, The Texas A&M University System
Landowners in the Plum Creek Watershed of Hays, Caldwell, and Travis counties are frustrated with the destructive habits of feral hogs. Landowners want to know who owns feral hogs and when that person or agency will get rid of them. In the end, they may be surprised by the answer. No one owns feral hogs – at least not until they are captured or killed by someone on private or public lands.
Feral hogs originated from domestic sources and were first introduced into the U.S. by early explorers and settlers as a food source. Subsequent escapes from holding pens or intentional releases resulted in a free-ranging population currently estimated to be between 1.9 and 3.4 million in Texas alone.
Feral hogs are not a game or non-game species in Texas. Instead, feral hogs are considered exotic livestock as described in Texas Parks and Wildlife Code Section 1.101(4) and Texas Agriculture Code 161.001(a) . Because of this distinction, they are not owned by anyone until they express control of the animal according to the Texas Agriculture Code Section 161.002.
Here, the codes states, “A person is subject to this chapter as the caretaker of an animal and is presumed to control the animal if the person:(1) is the owner or lessee of the pen, pasture, or other place in which the animal is located and has control of that place; or (2) exercises care or control over the animal. (b) This section does not limit the care and control of an animal to any person.”
Agricultural Damage by Hogs
According to the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, feral hogs in Texas cause an estimated $52 million dollars in damage to the agricultural industry annually (Figure 1). This figure does not account for damage in suburban areas or growing concerns over impacts to water quality, as in the Plum Creek Watershed.
Landowners or their agents are allowed to kill feral hogs on their property without a hunting license if feral hogs are causing damage. However, any landowner that plans to trap or snare hogs should have a valid Texas hunting license, since these activities could affect other wildlife species.
For those who hunt feral hogs for trophy and/or food, a Texas hunting license is required. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) outlines license requirements and specific legal hunting methods in its annual hunting and fishing regulations publication, the Outdoor Annual. A hunting license permits the use of firearms, snaring and trapping (Figures 2 and 3).
Exotic species, including the feral hog, may be hunted throughout the year. Aerial gunning is allowed with a permit from the TPWD. There is no closed season and no bag limit. It is legal to use suppressors (silencers) on firearms to hunt feral hogs, but an Alcohol Tobacco Firearms Form 4 must be completed to purchase a suppressor. Feral hogs may be hunted at night with the use of a spotlight or night vision, but it is a good idea to provide a courtesy call to your local game warden to let them know you will be hunting feral hogs.
For more information contact:
Jared Timmons at 979-845-7471 or email@example.com
Download a printer-friendly version of this publication: Feral Hog Laws and Regulations in Texas
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