By Taylor Short

The Cove Herald

Coryell County commissioners voted Monday to deliver their final count of feral hog kills to the state, though they doubt it will be enough to garner any funding to help eradicate the pests.

County Judge John Firth reported a final number of 119 feral hogs killed in the county during October, which will go toward a Texas Department of Agriculture contest that challenged counties to rack up kills for abatement funding.

Commissioners voted Monday to approve the final count to send to the TDA by Thursday, if only to show the county is active in the program, which could bring assistance in the long run, Firth said.

The top three counties will receive between $10,000 and $25,000 to help exterminate the problematic pigs.

The contest also counted participation rates at informational programs and the number of acres landowners were willing to open to access by trappers.

Firth said the county trapper, Lawrence Pruett, was responsible for 73 of the 119 reported kills, with the rest tallied by local producers and ranchers.

Commissioner Jack Wall said the number was a tremendous increase from past counts in which the number of coyotes and hogs combined did not reach 100.

Feral hogs breed quickly and can each cause up to $400 damage to property every year, with several Coryell County residents reporting damage to livestock or loss of crops. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department estimates there are about 1.5 million hogs in the state today.

"If we don't turn something in, it shows that we don't care," Wall said, suggesting a county-wide producers meeting could help boost participation. "It's going to boil down to our county taking care of our county."

The count will continue, though officials expect a slowdown during deer season, which runs through January.

The court also approved a grant application for $38,284 to help fund the indigent defense program, which provides legal counsel for those who cannot afford it.

"For this particular year, it's really important that we submit this because we're going to have a number of very expensive court-appointed attorney cases," Firth said. "Up to three capital murder cases could come to the courts here in fiscal year 2011."

As of Wednesday morning, the county jail roster showed three inmates incarcerated for capital murder and one for murder.

Firth said he is confident the grant application will be approved.

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