Feral hogs are responsible for an estimated $400 million in direct damages in Texas every year according to several sources. There are an estimated 1.5 to 2 million feral hogs in the state across all 254 counties. It is also reported that for each dollar spent on feral hog control, over $7.50 is saved in agricultural products that are not destroyed by this depredating species.
Currently, helicopter aerial shooting is utilized to reduce high hog concentrations and is considered the most effective means for controlling population. Because both feral hogs and coyotes are considered depredating species, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code allows landowners to take them from an aircraft or airborne device on their own property, or to pay to have a "service provider" with a permit issued by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department shoot these animals for them in the same manner. This, however, can be quite costly for the landowner.
House Bill 716 by state Representative Sid Miller (R-Stephenville) and state Senator Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay) would allow a qualified landowner or landowner's agent, as determined by Texas Parks & Wildlife Commission rules, to contract to participate as a shooter or observer in a helicopter to take depredating feral hogs or coyotes under the authority of a permit issued by TPWD. This means a properly-permitted landowner or helicopter owner could contract with third parties to ride on these aircraft and participate in feral hog or coyote management operations -- helping control population for the landowner, while reducing cost to the landowner. The Commission would retain authority to ensure that these operations are run in a safe and effective manner.
Please contact your state Senator and urge him or her to support HB 716. Contact information for Senators can be found here.