77彩票网appA three-month feral hog trapping pilot program in South Montgomery County continues to see success, with a total of 43 feral hogs reported trapped since mid-January, including two dozen pregnant sows, officials from Montgomery County Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack’s office confirmed March 9.

The pilot program had been criticized during a February meeting of The Woodlands Township board, with one official saying it wasn’t much “bang for your buck.”

77彩票网appCody Grimes, a staff member in Noack’s office, said the pilot program — approved on Jan. 17 — has led to the capture of 43 feral hogs, 16 of which were boars and 27 were sows. Of the 27 sows, 24 were reportedly pregnant, he added.

“According to the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension, the average litter for a pregnant wild pig is approximately five to six pigs, and that a litter larger than that size is not abnormal, meaning, in just a few weeks to a month from now, there could have been at minimum 144 piglets running around Spring Creek behind the Grogan’s Point community,” Grimes said in an email to The Villager. “Young females can be sexually mature at 6 months and sometimes earlier, meaning there could be hundreds more piglets conceived by this group had they not been trapped.”

Grimes said Noack’s office has received comments from numerous residents of Grogan’s Point neighborhoods expressing their appreciation for the trapping efforts and that it was helping reduce the local population. He added that those positive comments from affected residents contradict comments made by John Powers, the assistant general manager for community services for The Woodlands Township, at a recent meeting.

77彩票网appDuring discussion on Feb. 26 during a board meeting of The Woodlands Township, an agenda item related to nuisance species management was discussed before being tabled to a later date. Powers, the assistant general manager for community services who works underneath township President and General Manager Don Norrell, suggested that the township should coordinate with regional entities to help corral the feral hog population. He also criticized Noack’s feral hog trapping program.

“Before we had feral hog problems, we’ve had coyote problems. While I can certainly understand trying to get the biggest bang for your buck with $25,000, fourteen thousand dollars for 30 pigs is not a big ‘bang for your buck,’ and I think a plan that brings all the parties together on a regional approach would better suit us all,” Powers said, referring to Noack’s pilot program.

77彩票网appNoack contested Powers’ comments, saying his office is taking action while the township is not, and he added that the 24 pregnant sows being caught was a positive development in light of how frequent the female swine breed. The pregnant sow element, he said would be equal to taking about 144 piglets out of the population if each sow had given birth to an average of six piglets, which experts say is an accurate estimate.

“We are actually trapping hogs. We are working on targeted areas in which there are a large number of hogs that are damaging private property by traveling through county-owned land. In Grogans’s Point, along Spring Creek, we own a large majority of land. We’ve decided to take responsibility, just like we did with beavers, just like we did with coyotes, to trap nuisance wildlife because as the private land owner, we think it is the best thing to do for the community,” Noack said. “We thought it was a much better use of taxpayer money to set three very large traps. We pre-bait them, we bait them, we move these traps…it is extremely labor intensive and a lot of work. Someone is literally sitting up all night long watching these traps (waiting) for hogs to go in…you don’t want to catch one or two, you want to catch the entire sounder (a group of feral hogs). We spent $14,000 to eliminate the presence of hogs in this area and to stop the damage.”

During a January interview on the effort, Andy DuBois, manager of precinct projects for Montgomery County Precinct 3, said the 90-day pilot program will be assessed at the end the three-month time period, and if successful, could be expanded to other areas of Precinct 3. DuBois also noted that only parts of The Woodlands fall in the jurisdiction of Noack’s precinct and that the issue of feral hogs has been under discussion and analysis by Noack and his staff for several weeks as reports of the swine have increased.

77彩票网app“The commissioner has been working on (feral hogs) for a least a few weeks. He’s done this before with both coyotes and beavers,” DuBois said in a telephone interview in January. “We had residents come by the office and also call. (Noack) walked the area recently and recognized the need for traps. He is going to use this pilot program to see if it is effective, and if so, possibly expand it to other areas.”

Feral hog control efforts have increased throughout The Woodlands and south Montgomery County since early December after a group of residents of the senior citizen community Windsor Hills attended a meeting of The Woodlands Township Board of Directors pleading for help with what they called an invasion of the feral swine. The hogs were sneaking into the neighborhood from adjacent wilderness areas, notably W.G. Jones State Forest, and tearing up sod, gardens and terrorizing elderly residents who often walk early in the morning or later in the evenings when the hogs seem to be more active.

The initial call for help was followed up by several presentations at different township board meetings, including in January when residents of the Grogan’s Point area in the south part of The Woodlands also asked for help managing the invasive swine, which they believed may create a danger to young children at are school bus stops early in the morning. After the Grogan’s Point resident complaints, Noack implemented the 90-day pilot program as a way to help mitigate the issue.

77彩票网appThe Woodlands Township has approved on Jan. 15 the hiring of a feral hog consultant for a cost of $25,000, however as of late February, nobody had been hired yet. The township helped coordinate two public informational seminars with officials from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension office, which were hosted on Feb. 5 and Feb. 20, with more than 100 attendees at each session. The township is not doing any feral hog trapping because of complex state laws and guidelines that govern the trapping of the animals in urban areas. There are trapping efforts being undertaken by other local entities, including the W.G. Jones State Forest, The Woodlands Development Co. and Howard Hughes Corp. and Lone Star College.

Noack said he has received many compliments from area residents about the trapping pilot program, and said his efforts are helping reduce the feral hog population.

77彩票网app“While the township is talking and tabling what they are going to do (with feral hogs), we are actually trapping hogs,” Noack added. “We believe spending $14,500 to eliminate the presence of feral hogs in this area and stop damage to private property and to have the taxpayers thanking us for a job well done, that is most definitely worth more than sitting on your hands.”

jeff.forward@chron.com