SAN ANTONIO -- Feral hogs have been plaguing Texas for years, and despite efforts by the state to reduce the hog population, the problem doesn’t seem to be getting any better.
For Renee Bousquet, wrestling feral hogs in Hawaii was life. In fact, he’s been a part of the Discovery Channel hit show “Hogs Gone Wild.”
In search of more wild pigs, Bousquet just left the hog haven of Hawaii and relocated his family to Bandera.
“They estimate right now that there’s around 5 million hogs in Texas,” Bousquet said. “Basically, Texas has as much hogs as the rest of the country.”
And that's why the state has made it easier to hunt them. For example, it’s now legal for people to go after hogs from the sky in a helicopter.
And right now some counties are competing in a statewide competition to kill the most hogs. Hunters receive $2 per pig, and the county with the most kills receives a $20,000 grant.
But even with lenient hunting rules and bounties, some experts don't see the state's hog problem getting any better.
"There's no way to eradicate them. The only thing we can do now is to do a controlled management of the animals," Bousquet said. "We need to get aggressive and have a plan that actually works."
Matt Williams owns two ranches that are full of hogs.
“You can see where they rooted... where the mud is piled up,” Williams said as he showed KENS 5 some of the damage the hogs have caused on his ranch.
Photos from a game camera also show dozens of hogs feeding on Williams’ ranches at night.
KENS 5 went with Williams to hunt some of the hogs. While the first attempt didn’t go so well, on a second attempt one of Williams’ friends nabbed a hog.
However, it took several hours to get the hog and it doesn’t even make an impact on the hog population on his ranch.
“I shoot somewhere in the range of 20 (hogs) a month here and I don’t even put a dent in this 500 acres,” Williams said.
And now, hogs are even plaguing drivers. Shortly after SH 130 opened up, hogs could be seen running around the road. Several cars using the 85 mph highway have already crashed into some of the pigs.
“Drivers have a tendency to avoid it at the last moment, so they overcorrect and that sort of thing and it actually becomes even worse,” Lockhart Police Chief Michael Lummus said. “They (drivers) spin or go out of control and make it a lot worse.”
Signs warning drivers of nearby animals have been the only fix for this problem so far.
Meanwhile, hogs continue to cause millions of dollars in damage to agriculture. Farmer Bonnie Dredla has seen it firsthand.
“It’s hard on the equipment. It’s hard on the crops, hard on the rancher,” Dredla said.
So when will the state see relief from these animals? Bousquet said that will only happen if the hogs ever have value, or basically when their meat can be sold to the public.
“We have to be more proactive. We have to make it profitable for the state. We have to make it profitable for the farmers and ranchers and for the hunters,” Bousquet said. “The meat can be processed and it can be sold nationwide. That’s what’s really going to make a dent in the hog population.”