GATESVILLE — State Hog Out grant dollars are proving to be more elusive than wild pigs in Coryell County.
Coryell finished second in the Texas Department of Agriculture 2012 Hog Out competition, earning a $15,000 grant to use for the eradication of feral swine in 2013.
The state agriculture agency gave a thumbs-down to the county’s idea of using the money to continue a bounty program that helped Coryell bag 891 wild hogs during the 2012 competition.
“I’m pretty aggravated,” said Commissioner Don Jones, who headed up the Hog Out project. “The bounty went over real well.”
The county’s revised plan to sponsor a hog-hunting competition and award the top three teams prizes of gift certificates to a Gatesville gun shop was rejected.
Mindy Fryer, a TDA grants specialist, notified the county by email Monday that the Coryell plan would not be allowed. The commissioners were given a copy of the email minutes before they were set to approve the revised Hog Out plan.
“TDA cannot approve the county’s request to utilize grant funds for gift certificates or for the purchase of ammo/firearms,” the email stated. “There is no way to ensure that the gift certificates or ammo/firearms will be used … for the eradication of feral hogs.”
“We are back to square one,” Jones said. “We will meet with the agriculture industry committee next week to try to get something worked up.”
The county did not actually win money to spend, Jones said, but it will have to spend dollars up front, then wait to be reimbursed by the agency.
“I don’t feel like we won anything,” he said.
Grant money can be used for hog traps, the email stated, and for educational activities that instruct landowners on the best practices for eradicating hogs.
Jones said the grant can be used to rent helicopters to shoot or net hogs from the air.
The cost of flying makes the choppers less cost-efficient than paying a bounty to hunters and trappers, Jones said.