Agricultural producers have been battling wild pigs for years, but the pigs’ explosive numbers are beginning to attract attention from people not involved in agriculture because of the amount of damage they’re causing across Texas in both rural and suburban areas. Jim Cathey is an associate director for Texas A&M’s Institute of Renewable Natural Resources.
“If we look at problems or the damage that wild pigs cause in Texas alone, it’s believed it’s about 52 million dollars’ worth of agricultural damage on an annual basis. For the nation, it’s about a billion dollars of damage on an annual basis.”
Cathey says those numbers don’t include damage done in suburban areas.
“Dallas, Houston, we don’t think of wild pigs being in those types of settings but they certainly are. Here in College Station as well. If you come out in the morning and find your yard turned up, or your expensive landscape turned up, or heaven forbid your irrigation system that made that price tag jump pretty dramatically with the damage those wild pigs caused.”
Cathey says most people don’t realize the negative impact wild pigs have on other wildlife and wildlife habitat.
“It’s difficult to see the amount of wild vegetation that is also consumed or turned over or turned into something else. In some studies in the Big Thicket in eastern Texas they’ve not only shown they’re eating our mass producing of fruits and nuts of our wild vegetation, it’s suppressing the regeneration of our native forests.”
And Cathey notes that wild pigs will damage lakes, creeks, and ponds.
“Now among all those types of things that we can see and the damages I mentioned in the streams and riparian areas, one thing that we don’t see is their contribution of e-coli into those stream segments. And for those of us who want to recreate, fishing, wading, swimming in those areas, we want the cleanest water for Texas as possible.”
Cathey says that if we’re at war with wild pigs, right now the pigs are winning.
“I really believe it’s going to take some new techniques. We’ve mentioned a couple today, like the use of toxicants to reduce wild pigs, but there has to be good and sound, smart ways to deploy those so that we’re not harming other wildlife in the works, and so I look for those techniques to come.”