New methods to controlling the feral hog problem - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

5/19/10

New methods to controlling the feral hog problem

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SOUTH PLAINS, TX (KCBD) - They are dangerous and destructive and South Plains farmers say the feral hog problem is uncontrollable.

Don Marble has been farming on the South Plains for over 50 years, and the hog problem is literally changing the way he does business. "You just have to take into consideration what crops you can grow around those hogs and just not grow the crops that really are affected by them," said Marble.

The problem is so widespread it's even caught the attention of local lawmakers. "There are several diseases that they carry and of course if that gets into the normal livestock chain that could be a huge problem. That could be a very expensive problem to have to fix," said District 84 Republican Candidate John Frullo.

But there are some strategies that could help farmers eliminate these destructive hogs.

Loading bullets in a magazine, Rod Pinkston prepares for the night's battle. "We're using the same equipment that we used in Iraq and Afghanistan," says Pinkston.

An ex-Army marksman, he uses thermal scopes to hunt an enemy that only comes out at night. Pinkston helped develop these instruments that show body heat in pitch black. "When we retired we switched from a two legged enemy to a four legged enemy, that's all we did," he says.

Their enemy now? Feral hogs.

Just as they are on the South Plains, they are a plague to South Georgia farmers, eating their crops. "Peanut seed, once you plant them they root it up. We have to replant. It's never ending," says farmer Byron Brown.

Pinkston runs Jager Pro, which means professional hunter. Clients pay him hundreds of dollars to attack the enemy, exercising what he calls their tactical gene. "They've always wanted to be a soldier. A sniper, or member of a SWAT team. And we give them that opportunity," says Pinkston.

Pinkston takes the clients to fields being destroyed by hogs, and exterminates as many as possible. This night they slowly creep up on a pack of nine. Then targeting through the thermal scopes, open fire.

"If you had a termite problem in your house, do you care that the pest control company kills the pregnant termites and the baby termites. No. You want the termites out of your house, because that is your biggest investment. The farmer feels the same way," adds Pinkston.

The hunters kill five hogs in this flurry. They pick up the bodies and will take them to meat processors. "This makes 343 hogs that we've killed this year in four nights. That's right around an 8 hog average. So we are a little bit under our quota," says Pinkston.

Like in West Texas, there are literally thousands of hogs in South Georgia damaging farms. The farmers feel like they are losing this war, so they welcome Pinkston and his hunters.

The night stalkers head back out on another military style mission. Targeting an enemy terrorizing farmers, trying to save their livelihood.

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