To Arlington homeowners' dismay, feral hogs expanding their territory

ARLINGTON -- Sharon Taylor stepped out of her Arlington home last week to find her flower beds looking like a war zone.

Her begonias were gone, her mulch was a mess and the special organic mix was apparently viewed as a delicacy by the unwanted intruders.

So Taylor, 63, who owns a landscape company, spent several hundred dollars replanting the big beds in the front of her home.

The next day, she was hit again.

All told, her beds were torn up four out of five nights last week, and there's no doubt who is to blame.

"I am so upset about these damn pigs I don't know what to do," said Taylor, who has lived in the Parkway North neighborhood since 1979.

To Arlington officials, it isn't a surprise.

Feral hogs have been causing problems at River Legacy Parks, next door to Taylor's neighborhood, for several years, uprooting vegetation and occasionally scaring a hiker or jogger on the trails.

This year, Arlington has trapped 12 hogs at the park. By law, officials must euthanize captured hogs.

But hogs had never before traipsed into Taylor's neighborhood.

"It's going to be very difficult thinning them out," said Ray Rentschler, community services supervisor for Arlington Animal Services. "They're probably here to stay."

Cooperative effort

Rentschler said Arlington officials are contemplating traps near Jordan's neighborhood but haven't picked a location.

One positive development this year is that Arlington officials are working with the Fort Worth Water Department to plant traps in the Village Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant sludge-drying beds that are adjacent to River Legacy.

The beds are an ideal habitat for hogs who have been sighted in that area.

"They're not a problem for us, but they are a nuisance for River Legacy and Arlington," said Mary Gugliuzza, Water Department spokeswoman. "We are working to let Arlington trap on our property. The hogs can be a problem anywhere along the Trinity River since they move up and down it."

Even if some of the hogs are trapped, they can be quickly replaced because they multiply quickly. An official at the Fort Worth Nature Center calculated this year that one boar and one sow can have 62 pigs in 18 months.

Widespread problem

Feral hogs have spread all over Texas and through much of the rest of the United States. Over the last decade, they have proliferated across Tarrant County and the rest of the state.

In recent years they have burrowed their snouts into the largely rural terrain of the nature center and into the yards and flower beds of high-end homes in Southlake.

In Arlington's Parkway North neighborhood, at least four homes had their gardens torn up last week, and one yard had also been damaged.

For most residents in the neighborhood, the hogs were more a source of curiosity or gossip. There was talk that one resident had seen a family of five hogs several days in a row during an early-morning walk around the neighborhood.

"This so new to us it was just kind of shocking," said Kari Lindstrom, a Parkway North resident who sends out a neighborhood newsletter.

But Jordan, who was hit for the fourth time Thursday night, remains upset. She tried mothballs and hardwood mulch but said the hogs were not deterred.

"They seemed to be delighted," Jordan said. "I'm used to armadillos, snakes, coyotes -- they never destroyed my property. A snake will scare me, but it isn't going to damage my place."

While she has no solutions for getting rid of the hogs, Jordan is disgusted that city officials are telling her that little can be done.

"It makes me furious," Jordan said. "I tell you what -- if this was at Jerry's place, if he had a pig problem -- I betcha the city would be all over that."

BILL HANNA, 817-390-7698