HOUSTON A novel plan to trap wild hogs took a step closer to reality after Harris County commissioners approved a contract with a meat packing company that will process the animals into food for needy people.

Feral hogs running amok have rooted up park land in the Addicks and Barker Reservoirs for years as their population flourished into thousands of animals. Across Texas, their numbers have reached an estimated 1.5-million, prompting some landowners to hire teams of hunters to eradicate them.

The problem here has become so vexing Commissioner Steve Radack proposed trapping the animals and slaughtering them, then donating the processed pork to local food banks. Now commissioners have agreed to pay J & J Packing of Brookshire $218,000 to process a year s worth of feral hogs delivered by Harris County.

We expect that there are several thousand pigs, maybe in excess of ten thousand pigs between the two reservoirs, said Mike McMahan, the special activities director for Harris County Precinct 3.

The plan calls for trapping the animals not in small cages, but behind fences in very large areas of land stretching out for acres where they won t even know they ve been captured. That should prevent them from squealing in distress and warning other hogs away.

The pigs get inside, they don t realize they re in a trap, McMahan said. So everybody stays calm and it s much easier to lure more and more pigs into those traps.

Eventually, the pesky pigs will be rounded up, loaded onto trucks and sent to the meat processing plant. From there, frozen pork products will be shipped to food banks.

Most park patrons haven t seen the hogs, which generally feed and do their damage at night. But visitors who dropped by the park the day after the contract was adopted thought the trapping plan sounded like a good idea.

In Louisiana it s really common to make sausage out of it and people really enjoy it, said Heidi Muro, who munched on a sandwich at a picnic table. So I mean, at least they re doing something good with it.

Officials involved with the program said they expect to begin trapping the animals within the next month.

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