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Feral hogs 'out-of-control'

PITTSBURG – A feral hog management field day will address the worsening issue of feral hog damage in northeast Texas, said a Texas Cooperative Extension agent.

"Feral hogs are not just a problem for agricultural producers anymore," said Galen Logan, Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources in Camp County. "They're encroaching within the city limits of East Texas towns, rooting up parks and home landscapes."

The field day, set 2 p.m. on May 17 near Pittsburg, is a joint effort of Logan and his fellow agents in Delta, Franklin, Rains, Titus, Upshur and Wood counties.

Various types of control measures will be reviewed, with the emphasis on trapping, Logan said. All types of traps will be discussed, including teardrop-shaped traps, round traps, box traps and snares.

The presentations won't stop with trapping the animals, but will also discuss what to do with them once they're caught. Gregory Hawkins with the Texas Animal Heath Commission will outline the disease concerns and state regulations regarding trapping, holding and releasing feral hogs.

Billy Smith, a U.S. Department of Agriculture certified buyer of feral hogs, will discuss marketing feral hogs.

And Jerry Ash, with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, will talk about licensing requirements for hunting feral hogs.

Dr. Billy Higginbotham, Extension fisheries and wildlife specialist, will give a history of feral hogs in Texas and the most current information on the extent of the problem.

Hernando de Soto, Spanish explorer and conquistador, first introduced feral hogs to this country in the mid-1600s, Higginbotham said. No one knows exactly how many feral hogs there are in Texas, though it's estimated to be in the millions.

Higginbotham does have a good idea of just how much feral hogs cost landowners, however. "We estimate feral hogs do $52 million of damage annually to agriculture," he said.

Registration for the field day is free. To register, and for directions to the field day and tour, contact the Extension office in Camp County (903-856-5005), Franklin or Delta County (903-395-4400), Rains County (903-472-2412), Upshur County (903-843-4019), Wood County (903-763-2924) or Titus County (903-572-0261).

Participants pre-registering by phone by May 14 will be eligible for a door prize worth $300, Logan said. The program will include a hamburger supper and a 40 -50 page bound booklet on feral hog management, Logan said.

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