SAN ANTONIO – South Texans now has yet another reason to detest feral hogs. The population of 2.6 million in Texas is responsible for $500 million in damage annually, and now new data show that the animals are also one of the biggest contaminators of the San Antonio River.
"They're everywhere,” said Amanada Nasto, who is heading up the Feral Hog Management Program at the San Antonio River Authority.
Feral hogs have long been a problem in South Texas, rooting up land and using area river banks as their toilet. It's an issue that has left the San Antonio River Authority increasingly interested in the havoc-wreaking swine.
"We're just trying to clean up the river, reduce the amount of pollution and reduce the amount of bacteria,” Nasto said.
To complete that task, SARA has worked to find the source of the pollution and bacteria. Now, new technology capable of identifying exactly where bacteria originate is helping the process along. Recent tests have zeroed in on one offender.
"The No. 1 isolate that we're finding, where they're coming from, is from feral hogs,” Nasto said.
It is a result that came as a surprise to some scientists.
"We thought maybe cattle would be No. 1, maybe human because of failed septic lines, but to see feral hogs to be a clear, big trend-setter, it really concerned us,” Nasto said.
Feral hogs, especially south of San Antonio, treat rivers like highways and leave behind large messes.
"They have to cool off in this Texas heat somehow, so they go by our streams and rivers and they like to wallow along the banks and the mud,” Nasto said.
The next step for SARA is to work with Texas A&M Agrilife to educate landowners on how to better handle feral hogs. They will also work with the United States Department of Agriculture APHIS Wildlife Services to manage and actively remove the hogs.
The end goal is to continue to clean up the San Antonio River.
For more information on the Feral Hog Management Program, click here.