By Rebecca LaFlure

Killeen Daily Herald

GATESVILLE – Coryell county's wild hog population continued to increase in 2008, causing significant damage to many residents' crops and livestock, Judge John Firth said at a commissioner's court meeting Monday.

According to the 2008 Texas Wildlife Services report, $119,300 worth of damage was reported in Coryell County last year by wildlife, the vast majority of which was by feral hogs.

"We strongly believe that the actual crop damage was many times that," Firth said. "That number only includes what damage was actually reported to the county by ranchers."

Firth added that unless the county can find a more effective way to control the feral hog numbers, additional crops and livestock could be affected.

The explosion in the wild hog population is a statewide issue. According to the Texas Department of Agriculture, Texas has the largest feral hog population in the United States with nearly 2 million wild hogs.

"Their numbers are continuing to increase because of high reproductive potential and the lack of natural predators," states the TDA Web site.

The Texas AgriLife Extension Service estimates $51.7 million in statewide damage every year.

Currently, government trappers legally hunt wild hogs in Coryell county, hoping to reduce the numbers over time. The trappers killed 674 hogs and 220 coyotes in 2008, according to the TWS report.

However, Firth said more needs to be done.

The commissioner's court discussed buying a night scope as well as regularly using state helicopters to hunt wild hogs in the county.

The court will continue to examine how to best resolve the problem, Firth said.

In other commissioner's court news, the court is seeking Coryell County citizens who want to get involved with preparations for the 2010 county census.

"Billions of dollars flow every year from the federal government to states and counties. We need to ensure we get our fair share of federal program dollars,"Firth said.

To get involved, call Firth at 254-865-5911, ext. 2222.

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