GATESVILLE — It is hard to find a wild pig when you really need one.
Coryell County has pulled out all the stops to kill or capture as many feral hogs as possible by the end of the year in a competition for state grant money to eradicate the pesky porkers through the Hog Out program.
Under the Hog Out point system, each pig killed or captured in the county between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31 counts a half-point. Each person “educated” in the ways of wild swine eradication during the same period counts one point.
Veteran hog-trappers said the lingering drought may have taken a toll on the wild pig population just when their numbers might mean revenue for the county.
“This is the slowest (hog trapping) has been in nine years,” said Doran Belknap, who buys live hogs to sell for meat through the East Texas-based company Hogs Gone Wild.
“Hogs need a lot of water,” Belknap said. “Without plenty of water, the smaller hogs don’t make it.”
The county’s $10-per-tail bounty has brought in 408 tails, said Commissioner Don Jones, who heads the county Hog Out effort.
“We have money for 92 more hog tails,” Jones said. “Then we are done” with the $5,000 budgeted for the bounty program.
Belknap’s hog-buying operation has bought or trapped 57 live pigs that count in the Hog Out tally.
Seventeen of those live hogs were netted by Richard Potts of Paradise Helicopter of Temple, the “pork chopper” pilot who is offering to remove wild hogs from Coryell County land free of charge in hopes the proceeds from selling the animals will make it worth his flying time, which runs $700 to $800 per hour.
Potts and his helicopter were on hand Sunday for the county’s latest Hog Out education effort, a free hamburger feed at the Gatesville Fire Station.
For information about the Hog Out, contact Jones at (254) 223-1210.