Residents said a key issue is gaps in fences through which the hogs are gaining admittance to the neighborhood. The fences are on private property and therefore cannot be repaired by the township, said John Powers, assistant general manager for community services in The Woodlands.
Rob Miller, president of the Windsor Hills Homeowners Association board of directors, said the hogs have visited the neighborhood almost every night since June.
“Most of what they’ve done is damage,” Miller said. “They’ve also scared a lot of folks ... it’s [a] 55 and over [community].”
Miller said residents are cautious about walking after dark and are also concerned for high school students who run through the area early in the morning. More than 40 homes have been damaged by the hogs, he said.
“You never know where they’re going to hit. ... We’re out of solutions with what we can do within Windsor Hills,” Miller said.
Powers said the hogs have been a problem for several years, but several circumstances made this a particularly bad season.
“This has been a great year crop for acorns, and with live oak trees and acorns in abundance, they’re out taking easy pickings,” Powers said.
The township does not budget for trapping services for wildlife, and the cost of maintaining one trap was estimated at $46,800 per year in 2017, with a minimum of three years necessary to stabilize a hog population in an area, according to materials on the township website. According to the township, a community trapping program with six traps over a three-year period would cost about $850,000.
The meeting materials state that Texas AgriLife Extension Service reported an estimated 2.5 million feral hogs in Texas that cause about $50 million in annual agricultural damage, not including residential damage.
The agenda materials also state that property owners in Texas are legally able to trap or kill feral hogs on their property without a hunting license if the hogs are causing damage. However, a hunting license would be required if traps or snares are used.
Various entities in the area have placed traps on their property, such as Lone Star College and W.G. Jones Forest—which trapped 40 hogs in recent months, Powers said. The Woodlands Development Company and several apartment complexes have also put out traps. However, 70% of the feral hog population has to be removed annually to keep the population from growing because they reproduce so quickly, Powers said.
A female of the species—sus scrofa—can give birth to two litters of six to eight piglets each year, he said.
One way the township could increase its ability to take action against the hogs on property it does not own is to work with Montgomery County officials. Board of directors Chairman Gordy Bunch said a neighboring municipal utility district—MUD No. 67—may be able to provide access, and Director Ann Snyder said she has recently talked to Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack and Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley about potentially working on a solution.
Township officials said they are working with state forest representatives to create educational programs to inform residents about hogs and available control measures.