Residents living in the Big Cypress Creek watershed in Titus, Morris, Camp and Upshur counties can learn about feral hog control and their adverse effect on the watershed at a Nov. 30 workshop hosted by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service and the Northeast Texas Municipal Water District.
“Feral Hog Control, What’s Legal and What’s Not” is set for 6-8 p.m. at the Titus County AgriLife Extension office, 1708 Industrial Rd. in Mt. Pleasant, said Kenny Rollins, AgriLife Extension agent in Titus County.
Texas has one of the largest feral hog populations of any state, and AgriLife Extension has estimated that the destructive habits of hogs cause about $52 million in damages annually to Texas farms, ranches and the agricultural industry, according to Rollins.
Feral hogs are also significant contributors of pollutants to creeks and rivers across the state, said Aaron Wendt, the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board statewide watershed planning coordinator.
As feral hogs congregate around water sources to drink and wallow, their fecal matter is deposited directly in streams, adding bacteria and nutrients to the water bodies, Wendt said. Extensive rooting by groups of feral hogs causes extreme erosion and soil loss.
Dr. Billy Higginbotham, AgriLife Extension wildlife and fisheries specialist, will give an overview of feral hogs, their life cycle and what landowners legally can and cannot do to control these animals.
“Though eradication is not an option with current legal tools, landowners can effectively reduce the damage feral hogs cause,” Higginbotham said. “Legal control methods for managing the damage caused by feral hogs include shooting, trapping, snaring and the use of catch dogs. However, trapping using best management practices is the first line of defense for most landowners.”
Lee Thomas, Northeast Texas Municipal Water District watershed coordinator, will present information about feral hogs’ potential to contribute to water pollution. Big Cypress Creek flows between Lake Bob Sandlin and Lake O’ the Pines in northeast Texas. Its tributaries, Tankersley and Hart creeks, are on the state’s list of impaired waters for having bacteria levels that exceed water quality standards.
Thomas will discuss results from a project that is characterizing sources of bacteria pollution in the Big Cypress Creek watershed by using bacterial source tracking, watershed source surveys and watershed modeling.
The project is funded by the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board through a grant to the Texas Water Resources Institute and Texas AgriLife Research, Thomas said.
“Bacterial-source tracking is an important tool in determining the impact of feral hog populations on water quality in East Texas and targeting control efforts where they would be most beneficial,” Thomas said.
Information about controlling feral hogs is available at http://feralhogs.tamu.edu/.
One continuing education unit for laws and regulation will be offered through Texas Department of Agriculture’s pesticide recertification program.
For more information about the workshop, contact Rollins at 903-572-0261 or KRollins@ag.tamu.edu.