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      Hog killing contest coming back to Texas

      Feral hogs are all over Texas and now officials want help killing them. / Texas Dept. of Ag

      Get your guns out. It's time to go hog hunting!

      Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples called upon all 254 Texas counties on Tuesday to kill as many wild hogs as possible. It's part of Hog Out Month, a statewide effort to decrease the population of the deadly feral hog.

      "Wild hogs are finding their way into urban and rural areas destroying yards, golf courses, parks and crops at a cost of up to $400 million each year," Commissioner Staples said in a release. "These animals reproduce at staggering rates and are now a menace on Texas highways, which is why I encourage all Texans to continue to step up efforts to reduce the number of feral hogs and protect our state from further damage."

      According to the Ag Commission, there are about 2 million feral hogs living in the state which causes millions of dollars in property loss every year.

      Starting Oct. 1, the statewide challenge will end Dec. 31. The five counties who kill the most hogs and have the highest participation in feral hog abatement programs will be awarded grants.

      Counties must submit a notice of intent to participate by the end of Sept.

      "The only way to combat a problem as far-reaching as feral hogs is to aggressively employ multiple tactics in a coordinated and concentrated effort, starting at the local level," Commissioner Staples said. "Good local participation complements the work done in other communities resulting in a comprehensive statewide strategy."

      Texas Feral Hog Facts (source: Texas AgriLife Extension Service ) Feral hogs cause an estimated $400 million in damages annually. There are an estimated 2 million feral hogs in Texas. Feral hogs are predators of lambs, kid goats, baby calves, newborn fawns and ground-nesting birds, and compete for food and space with many native species of wildlife. Feral hogs commonly destroy urban yards, parks and golf courses, as well as rangeland, pastures, crops, fencing, wildlife feeders and other property. Additionally, they contribute to E. coli and other diseases in Texas streams, ponds and watersheds. Vehicle collisions with feral hogs cause an estimated $1,200 in damage per collision, and create safety hazards for those involved.