As the human tragedy of the massive historical flooding experienced along the Sabine River basin continues to unfold through reconstruction of homes and other dwellings and will continue for months, the wildlife impact manifests.
Besides the usual suspects of snakes, alligators and turtles found in places they do not usually dwell, feral hogs have used the opportunity to move out.
A photo circulated on social media showed two huge feral hogs running through a neighborhood in downtown Orange. Another video showed more hogs moving through a flooded area and giving a good scare to two men in the area.
I have verified hogs moving into some wooded areas well within the city limits of Orange where they have not been found before and also a good number of them moving out of the marshes and closer to homes in other areas as well.
Many of the hogs displaced by the floods will return to their former habitation but others will not. Floods and other extreme weather conditions are in fact one-way feral hog populations expand.
It is important for people to keep in mind it does not take many hogs to produce many hogs.
Let’s say half a dozen hogs pushed into a city limit area with adequate wooded and grassy areas to remain for the most part hidden, that could turn into dozens of hogs in short order and hundreds in a year or so. That is of course if there is a mix of male and females in the bunch.
Billy Higginbotham with Texas Agrilife Extension wrote the wild pig is the most prolific large mammal on the face of the Earth—but they are not “born pregnant”!
“The average is between five and six pigs per litter. Sows have approximately 1.5 litters per year,” Higginbotham said. “Are more litters per year and larger litter sizes possible? Absolutely yes! However, I am using long-term averages, not what can occur under ideal conditions which usually unsustainable over the long haul.”
“Young females do not typically have their first litter until they are 13 plus months of age, even though they can be sexually mature at six to eight months of age or even earlier in some cases.”
Higginbotham has said there are only two types of landowners in Texas: those who have hogs and those who will have hogs.
The recent floods are not a guarantee hogs that have pushed into new territory will expand but they will try. Much of their success will depend on how much effort is put on eradicating them once they are located.
Hogs are pesky and certainly cause damage but they are truly amazing animals that can survive in virtually any condition and are smarter than most animals including dogs.
We tend to think of them as part of the natural order here but they are not technically speaking.
Higginbotham wrote that in 1539 in what is now Florida the first hogs were released by Hernando de Soto.
“These 13 pigs were originally domestics released to be used as a future food source by the explorers. De Soto captured these particular pigs in Cuba and brought them into what is now Tampa Bay, Florida.”
“Obviously there were some escapes during the exploration and these pigs became the seed stock for future wild pig/feral hog populations. The wild pig herd that accompanied De Soto’s party increased to approximately 700 head by the time the exploration entered into what is now Texas in 1542.”
These animals have a long history in the Lone Star State and their story is not finished by any stretch of the imagination.
Feral hogs are on the move so stay alert, not just when you’re in the great outdoors but if you live nearby the Sabine River perhaps when you’re out checking your mail.
I live in West Orange and about four years ago, I and my wife Lisa saw a 150-pounder standing by our mailbox.
I’m just glad we saw it before it saw us.
—by Chester Moore
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has completed work on a plan designed to expand angling opportunities for Texas’ growing urban population and introduce the next generation of anglers to fishing.
More than a year in preparation, the plan (A Vision for Catfish in Texas) describes why catfish are likely to become more important to Texas anglers in the future, depicts the catfish species available in the state, reports results of surveys of Texas catfish anglers and presents goals and strategies designed to make catfishing better.
“Texas has some outstanding catfishing opportunities,” said Dave Terre, chief of research and management for TPWD’s Inland Fisheries division.
“We believe our public waters have great potential for providing quality catfishing in the future, and we have the experience and expertise to maintain and expand the fishery. However, success will depend on having the support of anglers, industry, civic organizations and local governments.”
TPWD fisheries biologist John Tibbs was one of the authors of the plan.
“Catfish are the preferred target of more than a third of freshwater anglers in Texas,” he said.
“These anglers have many different views of what catfishing means to them. The catfish management plan will be the roadmap that guides TPWD’s efforts to increase catfishing opportunities and meet the desires of anglers.”
Catfish can tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions. They are easy to catch, good to eat and easily reared and stocked into ponds and streams, making them ideal for providing fishing opportunities close to where people live.
A copy of the plan can be viewed or downloaded at http://bit.ly/CatfishManagementPlan.
—from Staff Reports