Hardeman County has been named the winner of the 2011 Texas Hog Out Challenge. The challenge awards grants to the five Texas counties that remove the most hogs and record the highest participation in feral hog abatement programs. The 2011 challenge resulted in the removal of 12,632 hogs.

Texas boasts an estimated 2.6 million feral hogs that cause an estimated $500 million in damage to rural and urban areas of Texas each year, says Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples.

“I have put feral hogs in the Texas Most Wanted List,” he declares. “We need to track down these destructive pests and eliminate them. Not only are feral hogs a costly nuisance to agricultural operations and wildlife habitats, but they are a serious threat to the traveling public and are increasingly finding their way into urban areas and destroying residents’ yards, public parks, golf courses and more. I thank all Hog Out Challenge participants for recognizing the need to join forces to control these depredating hogs in a coordinated and concentrated manner.”

The top five counties in the competition – Hardeman, Clay, Lavaca, Callahan and Goliad – will share $60,000 to continue their feral hog eradication efforts. As the winner for 2011, Hardeman County will receive $20,000 to help fund ongoing feral hog abatement initiatives.

“Feral hogs have become a major problem in Hardeman County over the last 15 years,” says Hardeman County Extension Agent Steven Sparkman. “These pests have made it almost impossible to grow peanuts or grain sorghum, and they’ve also disrupted our cattle industry by destroying hay and crops. We intend to use the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) grant to educate producers and trappers about different techniques available to continue improving our eradication efforts.”

TDA works with the Wildlife Services branch of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service to remove thousands of wild hogs annually through various feral hog abatement strategies. The effort has produced estimated annual savings of more than $4 million to Texas landowners.

Learn more about Texas agriculture at http://www.texasagriculture.gov/NewsEvents.aspx.