For the first time Clay County ranchers and farmers are coming together to put a dent in the increasing numbers of feral hogs and $20,000 is on the line. The county is participating in the Texas Department of Agriculture's Hog Out Program.
Newschannel 6 walked the Middleton 3M Ranch and saw first hand how much damage these hogs can really do.
Ranch owner Kathy Middleton showed us some holes recently dug on her coastal hay pastures. She says it takes so much time and effort to re-plow the damage and get the soil usable again. That is why she has traps set up around her property to help catch the hogs and participate in the Hog Out Program.
Kathy Middleton and her husband hope traps will ward off the creatures that can do so much damage to their pastures. She says, "They are a nomadic animals and they just travel where they want to at will. They will tear up your fences and whatever you've got. Nothing stops them."
Kathy says the hogs damage everything. They have torn up fences, crop land, and have even run off deer and cattle from their feeders. Now she has to go over all this mess before its to late. "You don't want to leave it because you saw when we drove over a place that we didn't plow how rough it leaves your pasture. You end up not putting the land to its best use because it already been damaged by the hogs."
That is why the Middleton's think the county's efforts in joining the state wide Hog Out Program will help curb the problem. "It has helped bring the awareness and the heightened fact that we do have a very bad problem here in Clay County. It has helped the producers, ranchers, and farmers see that there is answers and maybe some hope for us to eradicate some of these animals."
Farmers and ranchers can even turn a profit on feral hogs that are trapped alive. The Clay County AgriLife Extension Office says there are companies that will buy live feral hogs because they are considered a food source overseas.
The state wide Hog Out Program ends December 31st. At that point the Texas County that has rounded up the most hogs will be awarded $20,000.