Babe Wild in the Woods

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Robert Wilonsky Follow @RobertWilonsky Email
Published: March 5, 2016 8:52 am

Dallas to take yet another shot at eradicating feral hogs, ‘a menace to our city’

• Feral hog trapper gets three-year deal from Dallas City Hall
• Dallas already hired a trapper to handle its feral hog problem, but that wasn’t enough “abatement” for the city
• Gordon Keith: So, Dallas wants us to relocate feral hogs?

Dallas City Hall has once again declared war on feral hogs — “a menace to our city” responsible for “thousands of dollars in property damage every year” to park land.
That includes wide swaths along the Trinity River, where the filthy swine have torn up golf courses, lakeshores, riverbeds, fields and the Great Trinity Forest. And after years of trying to turn the problem into bacon (or tender pork shanks), the city says it has finally found a solution courtesy of Brett Johnson, the senior environmental coordinator who just came to Dallas from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, where he was their urban wildlife biologist.
Beginning this month, Johnson will oversee the city’s latest attempt at a “feral hog abatement program,” which initially identifies three spots for the hunt: Grover C. Keeton Golf Course off Jim Miller Road and the Joppa Preserve and Great Trinity Forest Trails south of downtown. And it provides trapping guidelines: Among other things, the “trapping methodology” going to the Park and Recreation Board on Thursday lists “real time trap surveillance” and “humane considerations.”

This feral hog is NOT staring right at you. (Rodger Mallison/Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
What the trapper does with the hogs will be up to them. But they will have to provide the city with photos of every catch and “receipts of all pigs delivered to holding and/or processing facility,” per the briefing, which is below.
“The plan’s overall goal is to reduce the feral hog population in a humane way and decrease the potential for disease, impacted water quality and property damage,” Johnson said in a prepared release that went to the media late Friday.
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According to the briefing, the city went looking for a trapper in December and will begin the program this month. The price tag hasn’t been made public, as the doc says only that it will be handled by administrative action, which is under the $50,000 threshold necessitating a council vote. For now, at least, it’s a far cry from the $284,700 set aside for a three-year deal that fell apart three years ago.
In 2013, the department issued a similar request for proposals and found its man in trapper Osvaldo Rojas, who became the subject of the Sept. 8., 2013, All Things Considered episode on National Public Radio:
But shortly after that, the city backed out of its possible-six-figure deal with Rojas when city officials and attorneys became concerned about the winning bidder’s proclivity for carrying a sidearm (for protection, he said). The city now refers to that in briefing documents as a “city-wide abatement attempt.”

But everything’s going to be different this time, insists Park and Recreation Director Willis Winters.
“In addition to property damage, feral hogs can have negative impacts on our natural habitat and water quality,” Winters said. “We are activating a new feral hog abatement plan before they become an even bigger nuisance to our parks, trails and neighborhoods.”

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