Local trappers claimed 1,675 hogs during a three-month period beginning in October, earning Clay County a $15,000 grant to be used for feral pig eradication programs.
The funds were won through the competition-based Hog Out County Grants Program, administered by the Texas Department of Agriculture. Competition began in October and ran through Dec. 31.
Clay County placed second among 21 counties participating statewide. Only Hardeman had more, with a final figure of 2,047 hogs. Counties received a half point for each hog taken and one point for each person who attended an informational program.
In all, 12,632 hogs were taken statewide through the expanded 2011 program, in its second year. In 2010, the program was one month long and claimed 3,600 pigs. This is the first year for Clay County to participate.
To count, hogs had to be trapped, snared or captured for the purpose of immediate slaughter. Hogs taken for any other purchase, such as for release in a hunting preserve, were not eligible. The TDA tallied the number of hogs taken with the cooperation of hog buying stations, including two in Clay County.
Danny and Val McClain, who own a station west of Henrietta, were pleased with the effort, and would like to see it continue. ‘We hope they do it again next year,” said Val McClain.
For first place, Hardeman County received $20,000, while Lavaca received $10,000 for third place. Callahan and Goliad Counties were awarded $7,500 each for fourth and fifth pace, respectively.
Monday, Missy Hodgin, Texas AgriLife extension agent, and Tyler Garrison, of the NRCS, notified Clay County Commissioners of the award and discussed ways to disperse funds.
The grant monies will come in the form of reimbursements, and can only be spent on a select number of programs promoting feral pig eradication.
Hodgin said that she and Hardeman County Extension Agent Steven Sparkman to discuss uses for the funding. Some suggestions include:
- Building traps that can be “checked out” for use by landowners
- Hold a field day to show the benefits of larger traps
- Offer cash prizes for hogs trapped during a certain time frame
- Offer matching grants for improvements at hog buying stations
- Hold a field day with a Texas AgriLife wildlife specialist
- Provide information on feral pigs through mail outs
Hodgin also said she would seek input from Game Warden Eddy Hood and Texas Parks and Wildlife Biologist Charlie Newberry.
The county will contract with Garrison to administer use of the grants. Commissioners elected to pay Garrison $5,000 from the grant funds for the yearlong process. Requests for reimbursement must be submitted by the end of the year, and requires a large amount of paperwork, including quarterly reports.
Feral pig populations have exploded in the state in the last two decades. Wild hogs are responsible for an estimated $500 million in damages to crops, fences, roads, fields and in feed loss each year.