— By LARRY M. JONES
I suppose it’s human nature for each person to feel that his or her personal needs are greatest and most important. Not a day goes by that I do not see on television newscasts or read in the paper about individuals or groups demanding that their personal agendas receive immediate attention by government officials or agencies. Without doubt many such needs are worthy of public attention, but I personally feel that perhaps these folks should work a little harder at solving their own problems.
The government was initially designed to support needs beyond the scope of individual responsibility. National defense, road building, police protection, mail delivery and other large-scale services are required to provide for needs beyond individual capability.
For more than 150 years my ancestors and I have taken care of most of the daily problems down on the “pore farm” without help from others. Years ago there were a few government programs that provided welcome assistance to farmers and ranchers, but sadly most government involvement today is regulatory oversight and restrictions.
One area where government help is critically needed today is for control of feral hogs. In recent years, we have been plagued with this new and growing problem that appears to be beyond the scope of individual resolve. Feral hogs are becoming a nightmare in much of Texas and the nation.
According to the AgriLife Extension Service, almost 80 percent of Texas land has them, with an estimated population between 1.9 million and 3.4 million in Texas alone. More than 5 million are estimated to be in the U.S. That number is rapidly growing, and officials project that the population doubles every five years.
Although once a problem for only farmers and ranchers, feral hogs have literally moved to town. Damage to urban lawns, parks, golf courses, sports fields and cemeteries is becoming significant. The Extension Service estimates a single hog causes more than $200 per year in damages.
While I could find no statistics on the damage caused by vehicular accidents involving hogs, I’ve read that officials guess there are more than 10,000 accidents annually. I suspect this number is far too low. Insurance companies report 1.5 million deer/vehicle accidents each year. Probably hogs and others are lumped into this figure which results in over a billion dollars damage annually.
We have a problem. I have a solution.
This year we gave Egypt, a nation now controlled by, in my humble opinion, radical jihadist thugs, $1.55 billion dollars in foreign aid. I’m not sure we’re getting much bang for our buck with this insane giveaway. How about we keep this money here at home and use it to put a bounty on hogs. If my math is correct, $1.55 billion applied to 5 million hogs in the U.S. shakes out to $310 per hog. That’s a lot of incentive to cure a few hams. While there are those who claim that bounties do not work, facts prove otherwise. Wolves, bears, and other large predators on livestock were essentially exterminated during the past century as a result of bounty hunters in the U.S.
Back in the 1980s raccoon furs were in great demand, fetching over $30 per pelt. Within a year these pesky bandits were as scarce as honest lawyers. Imagine what more than $300 per pig would do to feral hog numbers.
Larry M. Jones is a retired Navy commander and aviator who raises cattle and hay in the Brock/Lazy Bend part of Parker County. Comments may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.