Feral pig problem curbed by new traps at Hagerman NWR

HAGERMAN NWR, Texas -- A feral pig problem is still causing issues across much of Texoma, but officials at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge are hoping to severely curb the population with a new trapping system.

The pigs tear up land, leaving a mark anywhere they go. At Hagerman NWR this is a big problem as biologists try to conserve the area.

''Primarily they go out and root up areas we're trying to restore," invasive species biologist Saul Petty said. "And any disturbance to the soil brings in invasive plants and other things that we don't want."

In the past, the refuge has conducted helicopter hunts to help drive down the invasive species population but now, there's a new -- and modern -- method for catching the pigs.

"We can activate the trap using a text message, and we can also view video and still pictures of what's in the trap," Petty said.

With the tap of a button, a camera shows Petty how many hogs are in the new trap.

When there's enough pigs inside, Petty sends a message that drops the gate and locks them in.

Part of the reason why these new traps work so well, is because with the cell phone system, Petty doesn't have to physically check the traps and won't rick scaring off nearby pigs.

"The most that we've caught so far is 25...In one trap," he said.

After they've been caught, they're euthanized. Petty said this is done because relocating the pigs elsewhere would just make them another person's problem.

Right now, the wildlife refuge typically catches a group -- or "sounder" -- of pigs on a weekly basis.

And since there's only one of these new traps -- it's frequently moved around the refuge.

But it's possible the refuge will soon get another, since it's working so well thus far.

"Currently, at least for what we do and the resources we have available, this is the best method we've found so far," he said.

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