The temptation when hearing about the feral (wild) hog infestation in Central Texas is to smile. Danger from placid porkers? Has lovable Miss Piggy turned into monstrous Godzilla?
But it’s not funny.
Feral hogs are spectacularly well adapted to cause all kinds of trouble—just ask Milam County farmers and ranchers—and they have become a problem which has grown to almost crisis proportions in recent years.
Wild hogs are causing many thousands of dollars in damages throughout Milam County and Central Texas. Ogden Nash once memorably wrote: “In the world of mules; there are no rules.” That goes doubles for feral hogs, who seem to have a gift for tearing up property far out of proportion to their size.
As feral hogs spread there are other concerns. Wild hogs can pass two dozen diseases to humans. And it’s doubly dangerous because many of us find their meat as tasty as that of commercially produced hogs and assume it’s just as safe.
Not always. Brucellosis is the most common disease which can be spread from feral hogs to humans and it’s nasty stuff, manifesting itself in high fever which can be fatal.
You can get it by eating undercooked meat or getting blood, fluid or tissue of an infected hog into your nose, eyes, or through a cut in the skin.
Milam, Bell, Falls and Hamilton counties are currently seeking grants for a unified program to try and at least slow down the spread of the animals.
In Milam County, it’s proposed some of the money be used to build hog traps for loan to farmers and ranchers, while the remainder could go for bounties in a hunt-and-destroy type program.
Nobody has any illusions that such a program is going to eradicate the serious and growing infestation of wild hogs. They’re too well entrenched and too well-adapted to be eliminated by such efforts.
But you’ve got to start somewhere.—M.B.