Dozier and Big Momma showed up in Robert Gonzalez’s yard for the first time about a month ago.
In 12 years living on Acacia Court in League City, Gonzalez had seen deer and coyotes and even a bobcat, but that was the first time feral hogs had visited.
They haven’t been very courteous visitors.
Weeks of nighttime visits by the pigs and their five piglets have left the yard looking like someone went wild with a rototiller. The pigs come out of the nearby woods to hunt for grubs and other food.
Gonzalez doesn’t know exactly where they came from, or where they go during the day, and he’s worried that more are on their way, he said.
“The problem is, I’ve been told that these things can breed three times a year and each time they have a litter of four to six,” he said.
Gonzalez has a guess that the pigs were displaced from another territory by Hurricane Harvey or some other recent storm.
Whatever the case, it’s a new and growing problem for him, and apparently for other local people as well.
Long the bane of landowners in rural parts of Texas, feral hogs lately have become such a noticeable problem locally that Galveston County is attempting to come up with a solution.
County commissioners Oct. 8 approved a request from the parks department to apply for a grant from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service to help create a hog abatement program.
If the $20,000 grant is approved, the county would create the “Galveston County Hog Call line,” a hotline for people to report pig sightings, said Julie Diaz, director of parks and cultural services.
The county would map the sightings using a computer program, and, once a general location was identified, hire a contractor to head out and, as Diaz put it, “nicely get rid of” the animals.
The program would operate throughout the county, she said.
“For us, we knew we had an issue in Jack Brooks Park, but we wanted to do more within the county,” she said “We asked where else can we help the constituents.”
Wild hogs have lived in local woods for years, Diaz said.
There is a significant population of them in Jack Brooks Park in Hitchcock, she said. The pigs tend to root around trees, tearing up the grass in the park, which can interrupt regular groundskeeping and require extensive maintenance to repair the damage.
They can also be aggressive toward people. In December 2017, a Galveston Sheriff’s Deputy shot a hog after it charged and struck him in the leg. The deputy was OK.
No one has been attacked at the park, but parks staff members have been instructed to keep their distance, Diaz said.
The pig problem has been a big problem in Texas for a while. The state has run a grant program for hog abatement since 2008. The county has never applied for the money before, however.
The Texas Legislature in recent years approved laws allowing feral hog hunting of all sorts, including from helicopters and hot air balloons, in effort to reduce the herds.
In League City, Gonzalez said he too had tried shooting at the animals that were ruining his yard — but only with a BB gun. Big Momma, who he estimated weighs about 250 pounds, took a few steps away, then turned around to look at him, he said.
“I said ‘I think I’d better go back inside,’” he said.
He plans to build a fence around his backyard that will keep the hogs out, but it will also cost a few thousand dollars, he said. Then he can think about fixing his yard.