GATESVILLE — Wanted dead or alive: feral hogs in Coryell County.
After collecting $15,000 for second place in last year’s Hog Out competition, Coryell County officials will spend their winnings on getting rid of more wild pigs.
Under this year’s Hog Out plan, the county will pay $10 for each dead hog and $5 for each live hog sold for meat.
“They’re still bad,” Commissioner Don Jones said of the pesky porkers.
“We’ve got 891 less than last year,” he said, citing last year’s hog haul, “but there have been a lot more born since then.”
Feral swine can start breeding at 6 months old, according to wildlife biologist Rick Taylor, and sows may have two litters a year.
An average litter has four to six pigs but, in good conditions, 10 to 12 piglets are born.
From Thursday through March 31, Coryell County will again pay $10 for each feral hog killed in the county. To collect the bounty, hunters must present a pigtail and a certificate from the landowner stating the time and place of the kill. Pigtails and certificates can be turned in to any local feed store in Gatesville or Evant.
New this year is a $5 incentive or “head bonus” paid for each live hog brought to one of two licensed buying stations in the county. The bonus will be added to the price-per-pound for each animal sold for meat.
The seller must submit a landowner certificate for each pig, confirming when and where the animal was taken. The buyers will collect the certificates and pay the bonus when they buy the hogs, then the county will reimburse them.
“I will contact the buyers once a month, go by and settle up with them,” Jones said.
The two participating hog buyers — Doran Belknap, a buyer for Hogs Gone Wild, and Matt Sadler, a field manager for Southern Wild Game — both said they are eager to start the new program.
“This will provide more incentive to get rid of hogs,” Belknap said, “especially now that the price per pound has dropped.”
Because of the heat, Belknap’s buying pen was closed during July, but he will be ready for hogs when the Hog Out opens Thursday.
“I think it will work out pretty good,” Sadler said of the incentive plan. “In years past, when there was a head bonus it encouraged people to bring in pigs.”
Jones, who is the county’s point man for feral hog eradication, had to tussle with the Texas Department of Agriculture for several months before the agency agreed to allow the prize money to be spent on bounties.
Jones credited the $10-per-tail bounty for the success of last year’s program and didn’t let up until the state relented and agreed to pay a $5 bounty per hog. The county will pay the other $5.
Educating the public will be part of the Hog Out program, and the county has a new hand for that.
Dan Gaskins, 22, a Texas A&M AgriLife extension assistant, is charged with helping Central Texas landowners eradicate feral hogs.
Gaskins, based in Gatesville, will help with training and technical assistance during the 2013 Hog Out in Coryell County, but his range of operation covers a dozen counties in the watersheds of the Leon and Lampasas rivers and extends to Lake Granbury in Hood County.
In addition to making presentations and putting on workshops, Gaskins will provide landowners with technical assistance on the best methods for trapping feral hogs.
Coryell County has signed up for the County Hog Abatement Matching Program — CHAMP — in partnership with Milam, Falls, Bell and Hamilton counties.
Each county puts in $6,000 and, once approved, the Texas Department of Agriculture will match it dollar for dollar.
Under CHAMP, the county will provide free hog-trap gates to landowners, who must provide the hog panels and T-posts to complete the trap. If approved, CHAMP will start Sept. 1.