Feral hogs

Feral hogs trapped in Coryell County in December wait in a holding pen.

Five Central Texas counties, including Bell and Coryell, were awarded $25,000 in state matching grant funds to help eradicate feral hogs.

The counties were notified last week of the approval of their application for the County Hog Abatement Matching Program by the Texas Department of Agriculture.

“I am tickled to death,” Coryell County Commissioner Don Jones said. “This means more money for education programs” to teach landowners how to eradicate feral hogs.

Falls, Hamilton and Milam counties are part of the grant program. Each of the five counties will spend $5,000 on eligible hog-abatement activities and will be reimbursed with state funds.

Bell County Commissioner Richard Cortese, the point man on the hog grant program, said each county will decide how to spend money on several eligible projects.

“We have the potential for bounties on hogs, gates for hog pens, portable traps and educational programs,” Cortese said.

Coryell County, which is using its winnings from last year’s Hog Out grant to pay a $10 bounty on dead hogs and a $5 incentive for live hogs taken in the county, is looking to spend the CHAMP money for trap gates, Jones said.

The Coryell plan is to purchase nine gates to loan to the public, free of charge, for wild hog trapping.

The trapper would build the pen for the gates.

Leon River Watershed Coordinator Mike Marshall, who helped write the grant proposal, would help conduct educational programs to teach landowners the best practices for eliminating hogs.

Dan Gaskins, a Texas A&M AgriLife extension assistant charged with helping Central Texas landowners eradicate feral hogs, will assist with the training.

Shooting feral hogs from helicopters was a method being considered under the grant “until last weekend,” Cortese said, when a private helicopter pilot was arrested for trespassing while hunting feral hogs in Milam County.

Richard Potts of Paradise Helicopter in Temple, who contracts with farmers to kill hogs from the air, was arrested on five misdemeanor counts Aug. 10 after Milam County residents complained to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

“The program would still work under the grant,” Cortese said. “He just got off into areas he shouldn’t have.”

“We haven’t scrapped the idea of using a helicopter,” Jones said. “If we have money left, I am not opposed to getting a helicopter in here.”

Contact Tim Orwig at torwig@kdhnews.com

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