With about 3 million feral hogs causing an estimated $500 million in damage to rural and urban areas of Texas each year, Texas Commissioner of Agriculture Todd Staples has announced that Hardeman County is the winner of the 2011 statewide "Hog Out" Challenge. The challenge awards grants to the five Texas counties that remove the most hogs and record the highest participation in feral hog abatement programs. The 2011 challenge resulted in the removal of 12,632 wild hogs.
"I have put feral hogs on the 'Texas Most Wanted List'," says Staples. "We need to track down these destructive pests and eliminate them. Not only are feral hogs a costly nuisance to agricultural operations and wildlife habitats, but they are a serious threat to the traveling public and are increasingly finding their way into urban areas and destroying residents' yards, public parks, golf courses and more. I thank all Hog Out Challenge participants for recognizing the need to join forces to control these depredating hogs in a coordinated and concentrated manner."
The winning 2011 Hog Out Challenge counties of Hardeman, Clay, Lavaca, Callahan, and Goliad—will share a total of $60,000 to continue their feral hog eradication efforts. As the 2011 overall Hog Out Challenge winner, Hardeman County will receive $20,000 to help fund ongoing feral hog abatement initiatives.
"Feral hogs have become a major problem in Hardeman County over the last 15 years," says Hardeman County Extension Agent Steven Sparkman of Quanah. "These pests have made it almost impossible to grow peanuts or grain sorghum—and they've also disrupted our cattle industry by destroying hay and crops. We intend to use the TDA grant to educate producers and trappers about different techniques available to continue improving our eradication efforts."
The extended three-month 2011 Hog Out Challenge built upon the momentum of the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) 2010's inaugural month-long event.