HOUSTON (KTRK) --Feral hogs have been hunted in Texas by air, by packs of dogs, and by shotguns. Now state Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller says he plans to introduce the 'hog apocalypse later this year.
Miller changed a rule that will allow a product called Kaput Feral Hog Bait to be used to eliminate the wild hogs that have caused millions of dollars to crops and landscaping across the state. Feral hogs are considered predators.
No details on how, where and by whom the product would be used, but it is already drawing a pushback by hunters, who 'eat what they kill.' The meat is also prized in China, where it reportedly sells for high prices, imported from the US. A petition among the hunting community, asking that the plan be scrapped, has several thousand signatures and growing.
There are also environmental implications. Harris County has its share of feral hogs, as does most of the state. The county though is populated, and the idea of bait traps that could be accessible to wildlife and even pets is a concern.
Harris County Commissioner Steve Radack is one of those with questions. "Putting tons of food around Texas trying to kill an animal, and you don't know what's going to come up and eat it?"
Radack has two of the largest county parks in his precinct, places where deer roam and eagles and hawks soar. The birds feed on carcasses. The poison is said to turn the hogs blue, but it's doubtful that would deter wildlife.
In addition, he has concerns about surface and water pollution. "You think about that kind of poison going into the ecosystem. It would be devastating."
Bush and Bear Creek Parks are located on Army Corps of Engineers land, next to reservoirs that connect to Buffalo Bayou, which also concerns Radack. "I've already talked to Harris County Pollution Control and they're ready to maneuver in, and the County Attorney's Office, I've consulted with them."
A news release on the Agriculture Commission website states that Texas A&M's Agrilife department has approved the method for use. Miller apparently confident enough that he stated, as part of the news release, that he is dropping $900,000 from the department's budget for feral hog control because it will no longer be necessary.
A similar eradication method was used in Austrailia on a wild pig population but was later stopped, after it was declared inhumane. The poison, similar to rat bait, causes internal bleeding and is painful. Some hogs took as long as a month to die, according to published reports.