AUSTIN — Hunters moved closer Monday to being able to use helicopters to kill feral hogs that are damaging the Texas landscape.
With no discussion, Texas House members voted 137-9 to give preliminary approval to a bill that would let people hunt feral hogs and wolves from a helicopter. Officials estimate that the state has 1 million to 4 million feral hogs, which cause as much as $400 million in damage to land and crops each year.
"In the past, it has been a problem mainly in rural areas to crops and livestock," said Rep. Sid Miller, R-Stephenville, who carried the bill. "But now they are found in our urban areas -- in our cemeteries, our parks, our golf courses and residential yards.
"Rep. Harper Brown recently trapped 250 hogs in Irving, Texas -- downtown."
Miller, who said the hogs are found in all 254 counties, asked House members to approve the bill to "help land owners defray costs by aerial gunning" of the feral hogs.
Currently, Texans may hunt feral hogs from helicopters only on their own land. This bill, which also applies to coyotes, lets landowners sell seats to others, according to Miller's office.
Final approval in the House could come as soon as today, but the measure does not have a sponsor in the Senate.
Feral hogs, which are a mix of domestic hogs and the more aggressive Russian boars, typically are dark and furry and have longer tusks than domestic hogs. They are unprotected nongame animals, prolific breeders and a danger to people and other animals. They can also carry diseases that could hurt livestock.
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