“It was really bad a couple years ago, but then it kind of tapered off,” agent Lamb said. “Now though, it is getting more prevalent than ever before — I've received numerous calls concerning feral hogs from home owners located inside the city limits lately.”
According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's website, today's feral hogs can be traced back to old world European domesticated hogs, brought to America with the early Spanish explorers and colonists.
“Feral hogs are (descended from) domestic hogs that either escaped or were released for hunting purposes,” the site states. “With each generation, the hog’s domestic characteristics diminish and they develop the traits needed for survival in the wild.”
These days, TPWD officials have feral hogs listed on the state's Nuisance Animal list and have classified them as 'unprotected, exotic, non-game animals,' so they can be hunted “by any means or methods at any time of year. There are no seasons or bag limits, however a hunting license and landowner permission are required to hunt them,” the TPWD website states.
Hunting, trapping and snaring are currently the best ways to control feral hog populations, but those avenues might not work as well for some people as others. Agent Lamb reminds residents the city of Palestine has an ordinance against using firearms inside the city limits.
“Trapping is a viable method of population control,” Agent Lamb said. “The problem we're seeing now though, is many of these hogs are becoming trap savvy, making it harder to catch them.”
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Wildlife Specialist Billy Higginbotham said researchers are currently developing contraceptive methods and potential toxicants to help thin the pests' population but those methods aren't going to be marketed until the EPA allows it.
“We have a known toxicant that works very well — sodium nitrite,” Higginbotham said. “They're working on coming up with a delivery system that keeps it pig specific.”
Sodium nitrite is a federally approved meat preservative that is toxic to mammals in large quantities.
“The devil's in the dose,” Higginbotham said. “We've got to find a way to deliver it to wild pigs without upsetting other species.”