Bagging live hogs in Bandera: Fun event or animal cruelty?

Protest expected Saturday at 17th annual event

By Jessie Degollado - Reporter

BANDERA, Texas - Videos of people chasing, wrangling and bagging live wild hogs set off a torrent of backlash targeting the nonprofits involved in the 17-year tradition in the Cowboy Capital of the World -- Bandera.

The videos were posted on Facebook by Unparalleled Suffering, a group of undercover animal rights activists.

The group is now planning a protest Saturday at the Bacon Bash at Mansfield Park.

“As animal rights activists, we are tenacious,” said Sam Campos, a spokesman for the group. “We will prevail until every animal is free.”

“We’re going to take control of it. We’re not going to let them bully us down to stop an event that raises a lot of good funds for the community," said Brandon Nicholson, vice president of Bandera Wranglers, the event’s new sponsor.

Another nonprofit had been asked by the Bandera Public Library to stage the event after it became too labor intensive, said Mike Garr, library director. He said that nonprofit backed off after being overwhelmed by the blowback from animal rights supporters.

Garr said that meant the library would no longer get a portion of the funds raised by the event that was known as the Wild Hog Explosion. That’s when Bandera Wranglers became involved, with the money raised going toward the Boys and Girls Club in Bandera and other local groups.

Nicholson said his group is now being attacked on social media, including death threats.

“We’ve been blocking and deleting everything that comes across Facebook,” Nicholson said.

He said, luckily, there is no phone number or address for Bandera Wranglers, a group that does a variety of community service projects. But Campos said animal rights activists don’t make death threats because they believe in nonviolence. 

When asked if he’d every wrangled a wild hog, Nicholson said, “Uh, no. You’re not going to catch me in there. They got tusks.” But, he said, everyone who does get into the ring, knows what to expect.

As for what happens to the hogs after they’ve been bagged, Nicholson said, “(For) lack of a better word — barbecue.”

Nicholson said Bacon Bash is also a way to deal with the problem of feral hog over-population that wreaks millions of dollars of damage to crops and range land.

Yet Campos said animal rights activists like himself believe the event only serves “to desensitize children and society” to this type of violence.

“This is making a joke of their life and abusing their existence,” Campos said. 

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