Feral hogs are not native to Texas.
In fact, they are not native to the United States at all.
According to a report entitled, “Feral Hogs in Texas” compiled by members of the Texas Agricultural Extension Service, explorers such as De Soto, Cortes and LaSalle brought them to the New World as a food source.
“They have been in Texas since the 1680s and were important livestock to the early settlers, who usually allowed their animals to roam free. When confronted by war and economic hard times, settlers often had to abandon their homesteads on short notice, leaving their animals to fend for themselves. Thus, many free-ranging domesticated hogs became feral over time.”
The numbers increased gradually as a variety of settlers began the practice of letting domestic hogs roam freely only to round them up certain times of year for slaughter. As would be expected, a number of went into a wild state forming isolated populations in new areas an adding to those in others. “Feral” by the way, simply means the animals were once domestic but segued into a wild state.
In the 1930s Eurasian or “Russian” boars got their first introduction to Texas via a stocking by the Denman family along the Texas coast. According to a report by Rick Taylor a former (and longtime) Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) biologist, the agency first attempted to monitor the European wild boar in 1945 reporting the Denman release along the Texas coast under exotic game animals.
“The next report on exotics by TPWD was when Al Jackson (1964) reported European boars in the central Texas region and on the central Texas coast. In that survey he estimated 400 in Calhoun county, 175 in Bexar county, and “heavy concentrations” in Medina county. He also states that wild boar have crossed with feral swine in many areas so that pure stock is limited and hard to distinguish from crosses.”
He went on to note that, “In 1967 TPWD estimated approximately 10,000 European boars were on the Edwards Plateau south to the Rio Grande Plains in south Texas with feral hogs occurring in those areas and also in eastern Texas. It is clear that feral hogs and crossbreds were included in this estimate. Further exotic surveys conducted by TPWD excluded feral hogs, European hogs and crossbreds although some information was obtained.”
Since these early surveys, hog populations have not only climbed, they exploded. These highly adaptable animals continue to expand their territory throughout the Lone Star State and around the nation.
Chester Moore, Jr.