Are feral hogs the new coyote?
In other words, have they become the latest large wild creature living quite cozily within the city limits of the largest cities in Texas and beyond?
The answer is “yes”.
Right now there are sizable feral hog populations Dallas-Forth Worth and Houston as well as on the outskirts of San Antonio and Austin with some inner city penetration. I believe what we are about to see is cities harboring some absolutely monster-sized hogs. In the past I have written and lectured on what I call “Monster Hogs” which are any weighing more than 500 pounds. Such animals are few and far between but some of our cities offer all of the right ingredients to make it happen.
There is adequate habitat, food and cover and large boars in particular which tend to be solitary are great at remaining hidden. They may in fact possess more “intelligence” than any wild animal in North America. Add to this a lack of hunting pressure.
The fact that firing guns in city limits is a no-no will give hogs with monster genes the opportunity to live to maximum potential. This is where it will get interesting.
Sightings will be elusive but these creatures will be seen perhaps in schoolyards near children or eating Fifi” the poodle as granny takes it for a stroll in the park. We are fielding increasing reports from shocked citizens seeing normal-sized hogs in greenbelts and suburbs but how will the public react to seeing a boar just shy of average grizzly proportions(600 pounds) strolling down main street?
I’ll never forget opening the door for my then girlfriend (now wife) on a date to a seafood restaurant back in 1993. Visions of shrimp and sausage gumbo danced in my head. Then as Lisa stepped out of the car I heard something move in the tall cane behind us.
As we fixed our eyes toward the racket a huge mud-covered animal emerged. At first in the dim light at the back end of the parking lot I thought it was a young steer as cattle are common in any pasture, wood lot or in the woods next to the restaurant.
But it was no steer.
This was a hog, one that weighed well beyond 500 pounds. It grunted heavily when it saw us (we were only 10 steps away) and then went on about its business of rooting up the ground. The area the animal came from is a piece of wild ground probably in the 300 acre range and it was surrounded by industrial buildings.
Obviously that huge hog, perhaps a domestic set free to graze years ago as used to be common in Texas. It does not take hogs to go back to their wild origins and integrate into any purely feral hog populations. This was not the only time I came across evidence of monster hogs in the area.
Early in my writing career a man told me had located a really big black boar in a wood lot behind a Wal-Mart store and wanted to know if I wanted to tag along with he and his dogs to catch it. I declined.
Two weeks later a letter arrives in the mail with a photo of the hog they killed, all 400 pounds of it. I later drove by the area to inspect and saw the 20 acre wood lot the beast had lived in amongst a city of 10,000. Controlling hogs in urban areas is tricky due to firearms laws.
Trapping is the most common method but it has its ups and down.
“Hogs get smart to trips real quick-like,” said Frank Moore, of Killer Instinct Outdoors.
“We do hog control and traps will catch some but after a short while the hogs figure it out and refuse to go in at all.”
Moore said dogs can also be impactful, especially in smaller tracts of land but not everyone wants hog-dog activity on their property.
“They are definitely a tool that can help get the job done but not everyone is good with using them.”
In some areas sharpshooters have been used but that is also very limited due to obvious reasons. Another solution could be airguns.
While visiting with Rick Ward, the Urban Airgunner at the 2017 SHOT Show I learned of several airgun options that he has used for various forms of predator control in urban centers.
“I have been able to get permission to hunt in some of these abandoned industrial parks with airguns and there are more animals than you could imagine,” Ward said.
Ward demonstrated the TexanSS by Airfare Airguns, a .457 caliber air rifle that use a carbine length barrel and an enlarged and redesigned Sound-Loc system. This combination reduces unwanted discharge sound and the overall length of their original Texan
“I’ve killed lots of hogs with an air rifle and it certainly is a tool that can help with urban hog control,” Ward said.
The key is of course getting permission to any piece of land. Never assume because hogs are present you can just hunt there. Permission is needed. Written permission is wise even if using air guns. Both of the aforementioned hogs were boars and large, solitary ones that can find enough woods to hang out during the day and vacant field, cattle pastures (common in Texas and other southern cities) right of ways along highlines and drainage canals can thrive
Throw in the practice of allowing domestic hog breeds like Yorkshires and Durocs feed on open range with cattle and you have an even bigger chance of huge hogs showing up. Hogs show little regard for fencing and also need no help from man to survive beyond captivity.
As hogs push deeper into urban territory, certain individuals will find these sanctuary areas that will allow them to grow to epic proportions. Animal control offices throughout Texas (and as far north as New Jersey) are contending with hogs now on a daily basis but monsters like these are unlikely to participate in any trapping program they initiate.
Without standard hunting as an option in these urban sanctuaries, those hogs with the genetic code to grow huge could dethrone the coyote as the apex of city-dwelling wildlife. Young pigs will provide coyotes food but the ones I am writing might just decide to make coyote their food.
They are able and in some cases totally willing.
Chester Moore, Jr.