FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – The dirt in Fran Brown’s yard is churned and ripped up. Her flowerbed is destroyed. Brown – who, ironically, is a landscaper – has a home near the Trinity River corridor, and for her yard and many others, the winter season has gone hog wild.
“This looks like someone came through here with a tractor and a plow,” Brown said while standing in the middle of her overturned lawn. Feral hogs have descended on Brown’s property.
“They got up in here and tore it all up last night. We had a beautiful yard. I’ve worked on it for fourteen years. I’m devastated,” she said.
Biologists said hogs are spreading down the entire river corridor, and yards with as much vegetation as Brown’s are almost irresistible to the animals.
“You’ve got grubs in the yard,” said Brett Johnson, a biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “You’ve roots from the Saint Augustine. Its just real attractive to them.”
The state agency that traps the hogs is spread far too thin over 50-plus counties. So it’s put some of the pressure on cities and counties.
But some cities, like Fort Worth, say the animals are outside their authority, because the hogs are essentially wild game.
However, state experts said the animals are considered nuisance animals and can be trapped or hunted at any time. The key is working within the city’s regulations.
“Talk to their city officials and get on it,” Johnson said. “If you get on it early you have a chance of controlling their numbers.”
The Texas Department of Agriculture launched an education effort in October called Get the Hog Outta Texas, aimed to “curb the ongoing problem and decrease the state’s feral hog population.” The county that legally trapped or killed the most feral hogs won a grant.
Shortly after the program was announced, Southlake trapped 13 feral hogs. In November, wild hogs homed in on South Irving lawns. The city trapped three total, some of which weighed more than 200 pounds.
According to the Texas Department of Agriculture, there are as many as 2 million feral hogs roaming through Texas. They cause an estimated $400 million in damages annually.
“These hogs, which number in the millions and are capable of breeding twice a year, wreak havoc on property and also can pose a health threat to humans through disease and automobile accidents,” said Todd Staples, Texas Agriculture Commissioner, in a release.