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Update on Radack’s feral hog plan

So far, so good.

More than 100 hogs have been caught since July in a new Harris County Precinct 3 mitigation program designed to protect waterways and feed the poor by donating the meat of trapped pigs to the Houston Food Bank.

“We’re turning these pigs, a major nuisance and very destructive animal, into a valuable food resource,” said Harris County Precinct 3 Commissioner Steve Radack, whose district includes parts of seven independent school districts including Katy, Houston and Cy-Fair. “I think this could be a model program.”

The Precinct 3 program, run in conjunction with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is being funded by a $630,000 Coastal Impact Assistance grant to study whether removing hogs can slow down the erosion and pollution of waterways, which they cause. The funding paid for the construction of four 4-acre traps – the smaller waist-high traps are set up alongside them for moving the animals _ and for the captured hogs to be packaged for the Houston Food Bank at the only processing plant in the region federally certified to inspect the wild meat.

[…]

Mike McMahan hopes the new program can make a dent in the area’s rising population of wild pigs. As weather cools and the hogs become more active, the Precinct 3 Special Projects Coordinator predicts about 100 will be trapped each week.

In August, environmental scientists conducted baseline tests that will be compared to results during and after the program to measure its effect on water quality.

Two 4-acre traps, or pens, were built at Addicks Reservoir and two at Barker Reservoir. Feeders inside the pens release corn on an automatic timer, attracting hogs to push through one-way doors from outside. The containment areas are large enough that the hogs can continue with natural behaviors until a collection is made. To do that, a Harris County crew sets up smaller 16-by-3 foot cages along the pens, turns off the interior feeders and unlocks one-way doors into those smaller traps, sometimes using feed to draw them in. The next morning, the group drives out to the secluded site by off-road buggy, moves the pigs into a custom trailer with a misting system and hauls them to the processing plant in Brookshire.

About 6,000 pounds of hog meat has been donated to the Houston Food Bank so far, compared to the 460,000 pounds of other meats distributed by the nonprofit each month.

Only one pig of the more than 100 has failed inspection, McMahan said.

See here for the background. As I said before, I wouldn’t expect this to make much of a dent in the hog population, but it’s still a good idea on its own merits. Helping the Food Bank is always welcome, and who knows, maybe if this kind of thing proliferates enough it could make a difference. I hope they meet and exceed their projections.

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