Feral hogs rooting in Cove city limits
By LYNETTE SOWELL
Some Copperas Cove residents have seen destructive, four-footed invaders on their property, and it’s not the typical deer residents are accustomed to seeing in the city.
Instead, it’s feral hogs which have begun to roam portions of Skyline Drive, including the Mesa Verde area.
While feral hogs are an anomaly within the city limits of Copperas Cove, they’re not unheard of in unincorporated and rural areas of Coryell County. In fact, several years ago Coryell County participated in a feral hog bounty program which would pay hunters $10 for every hog tail turned in.
Feral hogs root and disturb vegetation—as Charles and Petra Johnson and some of their neighbors have seen firsthand.
Sections of the Johnsons’ normally well-kept lawn on Skyline are ripped up. Johnson and others in the neighborhood began talking about what to do about the hogs.
Rick and Angela Kirkpatrick live down the street and around the corner from Johnson, on White Mesa. Rick said they began seeing evidence of the hogs last week, and then on Thursday evening after work, his wife was greeted by the sight of hogs in their front yard and near their front door.
“They got up on my porch last night. They were wiping their feet on my doormat,” Rick said on Friday.
“Before the sun set, we saw four, and then Tracy came over and drove through the cul-de-sac and saw 12,” added Angela. “We walked around our property and we could see that the hogs passed through and then went down the side to the shooting range.”
Feral hogs don’t have the benign presence that the deer have in the city and can be quite dangerous, with some adult feral hogs weighing hundreds of pounds.
In addition to damaging lawns and vegetation, if left unchecked, feral hogs can damage native plants and can even reduce the number of plant species in an area. They can also contribute to water pollution by increasing sediment, nutrients, and bacteria in streams and lakes, and degrade water quality.
In Texas, it’s “open season” year-round to hunt feral hogs, but as it’s illegal to discharge firearms in the City of Copperas Cove, residents need to use other means to remove the hogs.
Kirkpatrick secured a large trap on Wednesday in the hopes that it can catch some of the hogs, which they have seen in the area of the Reserve at Skyline Mountain, north of Mesa Verde.
“On Wednesday, I didn’t realize they had spread beyond just here,” he said. “I had a trapper come in from Waco yesterday morning and he drove through the neighborhood. He said there are several yards they’ve been in.”
Kirkpatrick said one neighbor has engaged the services of a trapper who said it could take a week to get rid of this group of hogs. If that doesn’t work, there are several other possibilities available.
For Johnson, this was the first time he’s seen anything like this in the city.
“I’ve been in this area since 1991 and I’ve known folks in Lampasas for years to have had problems, and I knew it was only a matter of time before they got here. Quite frankly, I’m surprised it took so long,” said Johnson. “I know they’re hard to get rid of. My thing is, I pay too much for the landscaping, and to replace that, its more than $2 for each square foot of sod. I like to keep my yard looking decent, but I’m going to start complaining if it doesn’t stop. A lot of folks have the attitude that somebody else will take care of it, or it’ll go away. But it’s going to get worse.”
When informed about the feral hogs within the city limits, Coryell County Judge John Firth said on Monday morning that he’d always feared this would happen, and it was sooner than he’d feared. Firth said he would bring the matter up in commissioners’ court on Monday and ask the county’s trapper to discuss with the City of Copperas Cove.
According to information provided by Sgt. Kevin Miller with the Copperas Cove Police Department on Monday morning, Animal Control has also been in touch with the county’s trapper, Lawrence Pruett, who said he would talk to residents about setting traps free of charge. Animal Control does have traps, but nothing large enough to catch feral hogs. Pruett can be reached at (254) 463-2213.
Coryell County Texas A&M Agrilife Extension agent Robert Ferguson said there are a few ways residents can help cut back on major attractants to hogs.
“One would be watering the lawn. The feral hogs really like the soft dirt and well established soil to root in and eat bugs and roots,” Ferguson said. “If you have a pecan tree, pick up the pecans, don’t leave them laying around. Also, if you have acorns, deer and hogs really love these, so try to rake them up. If you are feeding deer or birds, the hogs are looking for and will come take advantage of any food source. With winter approaching, their food source in the wild will be less and less.
“Hogs are a problem for everyone. For those that may encounter them in the street, my advice would be to avoid them if at all possible. Hogs, just like any other wildlife animal, can become aggressive. More than likely, they are scared of people. It is best just to avoid them and contact the county trapper.”