— By CHRISTIN COYNE
WILLOW PARK – The City of Willow Park is taking steps in response to several reports of feral hogs seen wandering the city.
Feral hogs, which can cause property damage and other issues in populated areas, have been confirmed in the area near the Clear Fork branch of the Trinity River in the city.
The city has contacted a trapper, who is expected to set live traps in the area of the wastewater treatment plant beginning this week, to help cull the herd of feral hogs at no cost to the city.
Council member Gene Martin said his neighbor told the council member that he and his family went to watch deer in the Trinity Meadows Lane area but saw a very different wild animal.
“Then they got to watch what he described as a herd of about 25 wild hogs wander through the area, which I thought was a little too close to some of the residential areas,” Martin said.
City employees have also reported seeing feral hogs in the city, including a group of about 10, the council was told Tuesday night.
“If there’s really a herd of 25 wild hogs running around, that could actually, potentially, cause some damage to residents,” Martin said. “My daughter goes for walks down Kings Gate and I don’t want her wandering down there at dusk.”
“The city is openly looking for any property owner who wants to consent to allow the trapper,” Shaffstall said. “He was recommended to us from the game warden, and so, obviously, trapping is the preferred method to be able to remove them.”
Mayor Richard Neverdousky, who went to a seminar on feral hogs last week, said the issue is a difficult one to address.
“To your disappointment, once you’ve got them, you’ve got them,” Neverdousky said. “You will never get rid of them. It’s unfortunate.”
The animals have few natural predators in the city, there are no authorized poisons that will control them and pigs are smart, allowing them to learn and adapt to trapping methods, according to Neverdousky.
“One of the things that the city probably has to do is discourage the use of deer feeders because that’s one of the things that draws them,” Neverdousky said.
The animals are typically nocturnal or early morning feeders and tend to live near streams where they can wallow.
Wild hogs grow up to a height of 3 feet, weigh from 100 to more than 400 pounds and have two sets of tusks.
They often cause damage while rooting for food or wallowing.
Feral hogs tend to drive deer out of the area, according to Neverdousky, who said the animals can reproduce quickly, causing rapid growth of a herd over a couple years.
“They’ve probably been here longer than we know,” Neverdousky said. “We’ll do the best we can to trap them and get rid of them.”
“Some of these that we are talking about are 250 pounds. You know, this is not Mr. Ziffel’s pig,” Police Chief Brad Johnson said. “I have not been made of any problems inside the neighborhoods ... yet. But you know, I’ve had acreage and built on the north side of this city in the ‘80s and we’ve had hogs out there the whole time. But I think that the coyotes keep them at bay a little better out there off of White Settlement Road than they do here between the interstate and the racetrack. It’s not a brand new problem. And we are fortunate thus far not to have any sightings in the residential areas themselves. I think they are more apt to cause problems in flower beds and that type of issue.”
The more the city builds in that area, the more likely the unwanted animals are likely to migrate towards an area like the lake, according to Johnson.