FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) – Fort Worth ranch hand Mark Bires knows first hand about feral hogs.
“They’re the most destructive thing I’ve seen around here,” Bires said as he walked past a large patch of barren, overturned earth where the hogs had just recently rooted for food.
“They’re like rats, they breed so quick,” Bires said. “She’ll have a litter and then turn around and have another litter right aways. They just keep multiplying and multiplying. They’re just getting out of control.”
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department says feral hogs usually start reproducing at about 8 months old. Sows typically give birth to about five babies per year. But in extreme cases, a single sow can have as many as 24 young in a single year.
And they’re destructive. Bires says the Corps of Engineers tried planting hundreds of trees in a large field. Hogs, digging for roots and worms, destroyed almost every one.
And the holes the digging leaves behind? “You could lose a tractor in some of them,” Bires said. In fact, Bires said he thought he would lose his job when rough terrain caused by the rooting did thousands of dollars worth of damage to a tractor. Bires said in some cases the fields become unusable and the ranch is unable to grow enough hay for its cattle.
The hogs are spreading into neighborhoods too. One homeowner discovered she had little recourse when the hogs found her yard.
“She had them in her front yard and the police said she couldn’t do anything about them,” Bires said. “And they destroyed her whole front yard. And she lives just down the street from the ranch.”
A year after the hogs dug it up, that yard is still just a patchwork of grass and dirt that cost the homeowners $3,500 to repair and yet is still obviously an unfixed part of the otherwise green landscaping.
It is legal to kill the animals. But you can’t fire a gun in the city limits. And hogs are almost too elusive for trapping on a regular basis in the same place.
“It doesn’t matter where you live,” Bires said. “You should be able to do something about them. Shoot ’em. Trap ’em. Move ’em someplace else… Oklahoma?”
Fort Worth Code Enforcement will outline the problems to councilmembers this week hoping the city can find ways to combat the new, unwanted neighbors.