The West Fork of the Trinity River is the perfect playground for wild hogs.
The area has an abundance of water and vegetation and if there’s ever a shortage of things to eat, the feral hogs will rumble into one north Arlington neighborhood — especially where acorns have fallen — near River Legacy Park.
Resident Linda Simelaro, who can walk out of her driveway into the park, recently posted a photo of a fat sow that was trapped near her home.
“Between the pigs, bobcats, coyote, owls, hawks, opossum, armadillos and those freakin’ snakes, I feel like I live in wild kingdom,” Simelaro told the Star-Telegram.
The hog was captured by workers with the city of Arlington, which has been trapping wild hogs since 2010.
“We work really hard to keep them out of the neighborhoods — before we had them all over Green Oaks,” said Ray Rentschler, who works as Arlington’s Field Operations Administrator for Animal Services.
The biggest challenge is keeping the hogs away from Gunnison Court, which backs up close to the river.
Between the pigs, bobcats, coyote, owls, hawks, opossum, armadillos and those freakin’ snakes, I feel like I live in wild kingdom.
Linda Simelaro, Arlington resident
In 2017, Arlington trapped nine hogs, which ties for the lowest number since they began trapping in 2010. On the other side of the river, Fort Worth trapped 12 hogs in 2017. And at traps near Loop 820 and Randol Mill Drive, Fort Worth captured another four hogs this year.
“The river is a pathway for them,” Rentschler said.
A Texas-sized problem
The wild hog problem has long been documented in Texas, both urban and rural. There’s an estimated population of 1.5 million, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife. Feral hogs typically breed at the age of 8 to 10 months and under good condition, they can have 10 to 12 offspring.
Hunting them is legal year-round and has evolved into a industry, whether tracking them with dogs or attacking from a perch in a helicopter.
In Wise County, north of Fort Worth, an annual hog hunting contest runs from Feb. 6 through March 6 and pays cash to the heaviest pig killed — anywhere in Texas. Winners have to pass a polygraph test.
In the north Arlington area, October to March is the prime season for hogs to venture out of the river bottom and search for food, Rentschler said.
The city has two large traps in parts of the park that aren’t accessible to the public and three smaller ones that can be placed closer to neighborhoods.
The large traps can be monitored by a remote-controlled camera. When more than one hog enters the trap, it can be closed remotely.
From trap to bacon
What happens to the hogs?
They’re sent to a local food processor. The city receives money from selling them, which pays for more traps, Rentschler said.
In Fort Worth, the hogs are euthanized but not sold off for meat. For Fort Worth, there are also occasional issues in other parts of the city, where hogs sometimes wander into brand-new far north neighborhoods.
“We can and will trap wherever we need to in the city,” said Diane Covey, a Fort Worth spokeswoman.
For the most part, the wildlife doesn’t interact with humans, Rentschler said.
“Bobcats and coyotes are pretty much throughout the city, anywhere there's a creek line,” Rentschler said. “The only time we trap them is when they’re threatening humans. Both times we had to do something regarding coyotes were cases where people were feeding them.”
Trapping hogs in Arlington
2010-11 -34 hogs
2011-12 - no hogs
2012-13 - 31 hogs
2013-14 - 11 hogs
2014-2015 - 21 hogs
2015-2016 - 3 hogs
2016-2017 - 9 hogs
Source: City of Arlington