Feral hog eradication target of new grants

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AUSTIN (KXAN) – They’re smart, violent, and the government wants them eradicated.  Whether you call them feral hogs, swine or pigs, these 300 lb beasts are a scourge across the country. They cost an estimated $1.5 billion in damage and control costs each year. Feral hogs tear up fields, destroy archaeological sites, root around near watersheds, and spread disease to both pigs and humans.

Texas has one of the highest feral swine population densities in the country. In fact, the state just made it legal to hunt them without a license with consent of the landowner starting Sept. 1. It’s even legal to hunt them by hot air balloon.

The U.S. government has been trying to control them since the 1950s. In 2014, $20 million was given to the USDA to fund a “National Feral Swine Eradication Program.” President Donald Trump raised that to $30 million in 2017. Just last year, funding increased again to $75 million.

The USDA is now directing 44% of that funding to the states with the highest pig populations, including Texas. The agency is accepting proposals from non-federal partners until Aug. 19. Each partnership will be awarded up to $1.5 million. This is just the first round of pilot projects, with more on the way. Since feral hog laws differ from state to state, the USDA has to be flexible in how they put a stop to this invasive force.

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