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The Cross Timbers Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas (NPSOT) will host Randy Smith, who will present a program about feral hogs at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 9 at Harberger Hill Community Center, 701 Narrow Street in Weatherford. The public is invited to attend.
Smith, specializing in wildlife damage management, is a district supervisor for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) in Texas; which is a multi-faceted Agency with a broad mission area that includes protecting and promoting U.S. agricultural health, regulating genetically engineered organisms, administering the Animal Welfare Act and carrying out wildlife damage management activities. Its mission is to protect the health and value of American agriculture and natural resources, which supports the overall mission of USDA, to protect and promote food, agriculture, natural resources and related issues.
The feral hog population in the US is between three to six million, with half calling Texas their home. They have been in Texas since 1680 when they were allowed to roam free by early settlers, and since have adapted in the wild to every region of the state. The average boar weighs 130 pounds and sow weighs 110 pounds with larger feral hogs weighing around 400 pounds. They have poor eyesight but keen hearing and sense of smell. With adequate nutrition the population can double in four months, with sows having two litters of four to 12 piglets a year. Feral hogs prefer moist bottomland and dense vegetation. They travel in sounders, family groups which include several sows and their offspring. Boars, 18 months or older, are usually solitary returning to the sounder to only mate.
Causing $400 million of agricultural and environmental damage a year, feral hogs are the most invasive species in the United States. They eat seeds of crops before they sprout, root pastures to depths of three feet, and wallow in riparian areas creating erosion and muddy water. They will eat anything including small livestock and can transmit parasites and disease.
The Cross Timbers Chapter of the NPSOT meets the second Thursday of the month at Harberger Hill Community Center, 701 Narrow Street in Weatherford. Its mission is to promote the conservation, research, and utilization of native plants and plant habitats in Texas through education, outreach, and example. For more information, call Eileen Porter 817-596-5567. The public is welcome and light refreshments will be served.