Saturday, February 26, 2011

Feral Pigs in the Great Trinity Forest

Feral Pig along Trinity River Trail

Almost anywhere you go in the Great Trinity Forest you will see evidence of feral pigs or actual feral pigs. I have seen them upstream as far as the Corinth Street Bridge and as far south as Dowdy Ferry Road @ 1-20. Everywhere inbetween. Feral pigs along the Trinity move in family groups of 2-3 adults and 6 or more piglets. Rarely will I see a solitary pig. They seem to stay in their family groups. Adults weigh well above 100 pounds with many matching adult humans 150-200 pounds in weight.

Domestic pigs were introduced from Europe to the Americas by Spanish explorers here in Texas. Over time, some pigs escaped or were intentionally released into the wild. Subsequently, free-ranging, feral populations established themselves here in the state. Here in Texas there are three strains of wild hogs. Eurasian, feral hogs and hybrids between the two. Inside the city limits of Dallas, the feral pigs here are a hybrid between the two. They exhibit alot of domesticated marks but have the distinct longer hair and snout of Eurasian/ Russian Boars.

Feral pigs have sharp tusks and will attack if provoked or if they feel threatened. They have no natural predators in the Trinity Forest here in Dallas. Nothing hunts them, eats them, harasses them. They are the top of the food chain.  Feral pigs are opportunistic omnivores that eat whatever plants or animals happen their way. They can run over 25 mph for over 100 yards or more. I had one chase me this summer while mountain biking and it was running a solid 25-30mph. On foot a human would stand little chance of avoiding injury.

WARNING: These pigs will attack pet dogs if provoked. They will not attack dogs that bay at pigs but if threatened the pigs will charge your dog. Some of the locals who run their dogs with their horses on rides down in the riverbottoms place thick men's rodeo style western belts around their dogs necks to prevent injury. Great care should be taken to insure the safety of your pet anywhere south of Loop 12.

In the summer of 2010 their concentration was south of Loop 12 and north of Simpson Stuart Road. In the fall of 2010 and winter of 2011 they had shifted north of Loop 12 and up White Rock Creek as far north as 175. The population is quite large. I rarely see the same sounder of pigs twice.



Feral pig sounder at Joppa Preserve, south bank Trinity River



The pigs in the photo above are eating pecans that have fallen off of the surrounding trees. Pigs seem to have very poor eyesight, great hearing and a great sense of smell. As a result you can often get too close to them without you or the pigs knowing. In high grass, like Johnson Grass you can come across sleeping pigs and literally almost step on them as I have done.

Feral pigs in Dallas




Feral pigs in the video above were eating pecans from the same trees as the other pigs in the photo above. They are a different family group and were seen on a different trip to the river bottoms. Pigs, even the piglets are excellent swimmers and can easily cross the Trinity River without issue.




Feral pigs on levee


The pigs in the video above are rooting a levee NE of the McCommas Bluff Landfill. The levee forms an oxbow kidney shape lake that serves as a buffer between the riverbottoms and the landfill. A group of pigs such as these cause enormous damage very quickly. Erosion, loss of vegetation and habitat destruction.







If you ever wanted to know what the migrating range of one of these might be, I
found out.

The pig with oreo colors in black and white in the upper right of this photo was seen around Thanksgiving near I-20.

Path of pig from south to north during winter of 2011










Two months later I found the remains of the same pig north of the Texas Horse Park, west of Pemberton Hill Road near White Rock Creek. I had to double check my photo of the live pig from months before. It's indeed the same pig. Just shows how far and wide these pigs will roam. Loop 12, 175 and I-20 all have underpasses for the creeks that are very wide and offer great avenues for pigs to travel up and down the waterways.

In 2011 the City of Dallas constructed a large feral pig trap in the Great Trinity Forest near the Trinity River:



Irving and Arlington also have large feral hog populations. They began feral pig control programs of their own in 2010 due to complaints from citizens. The City of Dallas feral hog trap is in a rather remote part of the city. This location is heavily used by the pigs as a gateway to the rest of Dallas. The pigs follow the waterways and roam freely from the Wilmer Hutchins area up into the City of Dallas. The trap or pen is in a very good location to intercept the pigs as they move up and down the river.



16 comments:

  1. I'm a D/FW-based photojournalist working on an urban feral hog project and I'm interested in speaking with you via phone or email. My email address is robert@roberthart.com.

    rh

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  2. I live right next to Elam Creek at 175 and came across a Black and white pig while riding an ATV just last night. In my 21 years there, this is the first time id been in such an encounter.

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  3. Justin,

    Does not surprise me that pigs have invaded that part of Pleasant Grove. The area to the south of there is thick with them. Personally I have not seen many this summer since they seem to be in the muddy pits right on the river or deep in creeks. Feral pigs have the IQ on par with a pet dog. They are smart enough to figure out how to survive even the toughest of conditions.

    Feral pig encounters are always interesting. They lack the hearing and eyesight of a dog so its often easy to walk up on them unnoticed. After that, all hell breaks loose! As long as you stay downwind they probably will not know you are there.

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  4. Put a food chain on here, then I will be extremely happy :)

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  5. can you hunt the hogs if so using what caliber rifle, shot-gun, 30/30, etc

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  6. Yes, you can hunt feral pigs, just not within the city limits of Dallas. Hunters use everything from a .223 on up. Since many hunters encounter feral pigs while deer hunting, deer caliber rounds are often used. Shotguns are not used since the effective range would not be far enough in most circumstances. People have killed feral pigs with bow/arrows and crossbows too.

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    1. Does the city allow people allow pigs to be culled with bow/crossbow in the area around the Trinity River?

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    2. No. Since they are in a city/county park, no hunting is allowed.

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  7. can you huunt the feral hogs with dogs?

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  8. You would need to call the Game Warden and ask if you could run hog dogs there. Since the area is a nature preserve the laws might ban hunting of any kind, even for a nuisance animal like feral pigs.

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  9. Please do not hunt THESE pigs with any caliber gun. I live in this area and just found several different bullets embedded in my shop roof while repairing a leak. This neighborhood will call the police if we hear gun shots in the forest area. Live stock and pets have been killed by stray bullets. Hunting all along this forest belt is illegal and carries a heavy penalty. Please do your hunting much farther from the city where it is legal and good luck. I love wild pig but I soak it for 2 days in pineapple juice (and ice) before cooking it. Even picky eaters love it then.

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    Replies
    1. Pineapple juice is a great idea, I'll try that!

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    2. I've done it a few times with a bow and arrow. Sorry about your roof. To be honest, it was probably more of the people around the area than that.

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    3. I catch you hunting down there, I will have your prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I have all the ducks lined up now to make that happen. I will have whatever vehicle you drove down there to hunt impounded and sold at a police auction. Bows, arrows or firearms, I'm looking for you. Take your cheap worthless ass somewhere else to hunt on private land.

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  10. For mountain bike trails (singletrack) look up DORBA.org

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  11. Hi! Had two encounters yesterday with these pigs on the att trail where it is closest to the river befor the bridge (not sure what mike marker). The first encounter we were off our bikes on a blanket. To our great relief they ran off. What should you do if the pigs charge? The other time we were back on bikes but one of the last group must have been at least 80-100lbs. I was terrified lol.

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