County issues bounty for feral hogs

Hunters receive $2 for each tail they collect during competition

Hays County has until Dec. 31 to collect feral hog tails in a competition that could net the county $20,000 for helping reduce the population of the animal.

The Texas AgriLife Extension Service estimates that feral hogs cause $500 million worth of damage in Texas each year. To mitigate these damages, the Texas Department of Agriculture created the Hog Out County Grants Program.

This year 28 counties are participating in the grant program. Plum Creek Watershed Coordinator Nick Dornak said several businesses in Hays and Caldwell counties are offering about $1,000 in prizes to the hunter who collects the most tails.

"When I heard about this program that the Department of Agriculture has been doing for the last few years called the Hog Out County Grants Program, I thought it would be a really good way to possibly get some future funding for feral hog eradication efforts that the county could sponsor," Dornak said.

The program has two components: the bounty portion, which pays hunters $2 for every feral hog tail turned in, and an outreach program that is intended to educate farmers about how to handle the animals.

Each hog tail counts for half a point, and each hour spent in an educational unit counts for one point. The county with the most points on Jan. 1 will win the $20,000 first prize. Second prize is $15,000, and third prize is $10,000.

Plum Creek Watershed education coordinator Jared Timmons said feral hogs are responsible for damages to suburban and rural property, destruction of crops and the killing of livestock.

"It's a long list," Timmons said. "There's a potential for disease transmission between them and us, and them and livestock because of the bacteria they carry."

Feral hogs have also been identified as a major contributor to the high levels of E. coli in Plum Creek, a 52-mile stream that rises from north Hays County and discharges into the San Marcos River near the Caldwell County-Gonzales County line.

The San Marcos River provides drinking water to residents of Luling through the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality categorizes the creek's use as "contact recreation," which means E. coli levels cannot exceed 126 colony-forming units per 100 milliliters of water.

Dornak said it is not unusual for certain sampling points in the watershed to test twice as high as the creek's designated use allows. He said the Plum Creek Watershed is a "poster child" for watershed protection, and the hog bounties are an important aspect of keeping the watershed safe. The watershed's efforts are voluntary and are intended to prevent future regulations from the TCEQ.

"Feral hogs are a menace everywhere, and they're a menace all over Hays County, so a lot of other watersheds can [also] benefit from this feral hog program," he said.

The 2.6 million feral hogs in the state account for half the population in the entire nation, Timmons said. According to estimates by Texas A&M University researchers, the annual extermination rate must be 66 percent for the population to remain stable.

"We're at 29 percent [extermination rate] right now, which will cause [the population] to double within five years, so there is potential for Texas to have a population of 5 [million] or 6 million in five years," Timmons said.

Timmons will offer several free classes on feral hog control from noon–1 p.m. Nov. 20, and Dec. 11 and 18 at the Texas AgriLife Extension Office in San Marcos.

By Brett Thorne
Brett Thorne reported on education, business, economic development and city government in San Marcos, Kyle and Buda from 2012 to 2017. Thorne attended Texas State University in San Marcos, where he graduated in 2010. He joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in 2012 and was promoted to editor in 2013.


MOST RECENT

City staff said there have been some delays in completion of the project, but it should be complete by March. (Screen shot courtesy city of Kyle)
Casetta Ranch roundabout in Kyle expected to have March completion

Construction of the Cassetta Ranch roundabout, a project being undertaken by developer Brohn Homes that began Nov. 4, is approximately 75% complete.

The process will start with a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott but has the potential to escalate to a legal battle with the state of Texas. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
San Marcos may challenge governor over COVID-19 restrictions

The process will start with a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott but has the potential to escalate to a legal battle with the state of Texas.

The Austin-based eatery's menu is inspired by Nashville hot chicken; offerings include chicken bites, jumbo tenders, chicken sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, collard greens and homemade pies. (Courtesy Tumble 22)
Nashville-style hot chicken restaurant coming to Round Rock and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from Central Texas.

A number of new and ongoing road projects for commuters and area residents are coming and range from improved lighting along I-35 in Kyle to a roughly $100 million overpass project in San Marcos. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
TxDOT officials share 2021 plans for several major road projects in Hays County

Road construction along the I-35 corridor in Hays County has continued mostly unabated in 2020 and will continue at a steady clip, according to Epi Gonzalez, TxDOT's area engineer for the south Travis County region.

Hays county is still waiting for larger distributions of the vaccine, but it is preparing an online portal for registration. (Eva Vigh/Community Impact Newspaper)
Hays County now a vaccine hub, to receive 1,950 doses

Hays county is still waiting for larger distributions of the vaccine, but it is preparing an online portal for registration.

Two major transportation projects to look for in 2021 in Hays County

Major transportation improvements should be complete by the end of 2021 or in 2022, and are located in Kyle and San Marcos.

Feeding Texas hosted a Jan. 19 webinar to discuss legislative highlights for the 87th Texas Legislature. (Screenshot courtesy Feeding Texas)
Food insecurity in Texas' 87th Legislature: Hunger relief organization Feeding Texas to propose legislation addressing hunger

Hunger relief organization Feeding Texas hosted a webinar Jan. 19 to discuss increasing funding and accessibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in the 87th legislative session.

COVID-19 vaccines
DATA: Texas has vaccinated about 9% of estimated Phase 1 recipients

Over 1.1 million individuals from the Phase 1 population, which is estimated to include 13.5 million individuals total, have received at least one dose.

Bob Popinski, policy director of Raise Your Hand Texas, shared the organization's top education priorities for the ongoing legislative session. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
‘What does virtual learning and remote learning look like moving forward?': Raise Your Hand Texas policy director talks legislative priorities

Bob Popinski is the director of policy for Raise Your Hand Texas, an Austin-based organization committed to improving public education. He spoke with Community Impact Newspaper in late December about the 87th legislative session, which began Jan. 12.

(Courtesy Fat Shack)


Courtesy Fat Shack
Dining Listings: 18 restaurants that opened in 2020 and 1 coming in 2021 to the San Marcos, Buda and Kyle areas

In the last year, several dining establishments have opened in the San Marcos-Buda-Kyle area, and many more are slated to come soon in 2021.

San Marcos (Warren Brown/Community Impact Newspaper)
Community snapshot: San Marcos, Buda and Kyle show continuing massive growth

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau have been released at the end of December, and across the board, growth in the cities of Hays County is showing no sign slowing.