Filed Under:

Hired Hog Trapper Has Three Years To Clean Out Dallas

Play associated audio

Texas has a pig problem.

Wild hogs have overrun the state so rapidly that in 2011, Texas allowed them to be hunted all year round. The feral hog epidemic even spawned a reality show called Aporkalypse Now, following Ted Nugent as he shoots hogs from a helicopter.

But what was once just a rural problem is now closing in on the city of Dallas. So Dallas decided to bring in Osvaldo Rojas, a professional trapper with years of hog-catching experience. His company, City Trapping, was hired to eradicate Dallas' wild hogs over the next three years.

"I've hunted all my life, ever since I was small, and my father always told me, if you do something you love, you never work a day in your life," Rojas says.

Left alone, hogs are about as fertile as rats, Rojas says. "One adult sow can have six to 10 piglets. Out in the woods, I guarantee you 99 percent of the piglets are going to make it. At six months, that same piglet is already fertile."

The feral pig population in Texas has grown to nearly 3 million, roughly half of all the feral hogs in the country. In Dallas, they are bathing in rivers, spreading diseases, ruining the parks — basically, turning the city into a pig sty.

"If you think about it, Dallas spends millions of dollars on up-keeping at a park," Rojas says. "And one hog can tear up half an acre in a night."

The Texas Department of Agriculture says feral hogs cause $52 million in damage every year. On top of that, they're dangerous: People have reported hog attacks in the parks.

"It's a 300-pound hog," Rojas says. "If it's a big boar or a mama with piglets, it's gonna charge."

Rojas says he's been flipped about five times in the last month. Even someone who deals with hogs every day doesn't always come away scratch-free.

"I've had quite a bit of injuries: stitches, a couple of broken bones," he says. "About eight pairs of boots, you name it, jeans. I just stopped buying jeans. I just wear them ripped now. There's no reason to keep buying them if they're gonna continue to get ripped, so might as well keep wearing 'em."

His plan involves placing large traps with video cameras all around the city, luring the hogs with feeding stations. Once the entire pack is in the trap, he closes the gates from his smartphone. Constant video surveillance allows him to study their behavior for days.

Rojas estimates it will take about two years to trap most of the hogs, and then the last year to capture the stragglers. He says has a strategy that sets him apart.

"It doesn't take much, but it has to do with patience," he explains. "I can sit out there for eight hours and not see anything, and I'm totally fine. It takes somebody to have patience. And a little bit of know-how."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Book Review: 'Kinder Than Solitude'

Ellah Allfrey reviews Kinder Than Solitude, by Yiyun Li.
NPR

Plant Breeders Release First 'Open Source Seeds'

Scientists and food activists are launching a campaign to promote seeds that can be freely shared, rather than protected through patents and licenses. They call it the Open Source Seed Initiative.
NPR

John Edwards Resumes Career As Trial Attorney

The former U.S. senator and Democratic presidential hopeful is one of three attorneys representing a boy in a medical malpractice case in North Carolina.
NPR

When Parents Are The Ones Too Distracted By Devices

Parents often complain that smartphones keep their kids distracted from conversation. What happens when it's the other way around, when kids can't get their smartphone-glued parents' attention?

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.