North America’s first swine arrived in Florida with Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto in 1539. He brought thirteen, and within three years there were seven hundred. Fast-forward almost five centuries and now there’s, like, a gajillion wild hogs. The federal government estimates that they do about $2.5 billion in annual damage nationwide. None of this is news to Texans, of course. We’ve been waging war against these porky SOBs for decades.
But there is a group of people for whom the porcine devils are newly a menace: Californians. Residents are so frustrated by the pigs’ exponential population growth, and the damage that population can wreak upon a soccer field or (God forbid) a vineyard in Napa Valley, that a state senator has proposed legislation that would waive the $25 fee required to hunt a feral pig. Welcome to the good fight, Cali.
If what happens here happens there, Californians will likely be failing to put a dent in their pig population for many years to come. So, happy for any opportunity to Texsplain something to the coastal elite, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to draw up a list of suggestions.
1. Get thee a helicopter with a big gun.
We hate hogs so much in this state that we made it legal to assassinate them from the sky. You can rent a gunner seat in a chopper any day of the year in Texas. Some packages provide weapons and unlimited ammo, but I’m sure you could bring your favorite AR-15 and some Bluetooth speakers from which to blast “Ride of the Valkyries.”
Cons: It ain’t cheap. Heli hog hunting costs between $1,250 and $2,000 an hour.
Pros: Those snotty bastards won’t know what hit ’em.
2. Elect yourselves a Sid Miller type.
Unfortunately, we owe the whole chopper thing to one of our, um, wackiest public officials, agricultural commissioner and protector of the deep fryer Sid Miller. Back in 2011, when Miller was but a humble state representative, he introduced the bill that made helicopter hunting legal. A quick Google search indicates that state senator Bill Dodd, who introduced the bill that would make hog hunting easier in California, is a reasonable man. But hogs are not a reasonable enemy. Neither is Sid Miller.
Cons: The chopper bill raised Miller’s political capital enough to get him elected to statewide office, and now we’re stuck with an agricultural commissioner who once publicly pardoned a cupcake.
Pros: At least Sid Miller makes us laugh.
3. Go to hog school.
Chef, hunter, and author Jesse Griffiths has built a career persuading people to kill, and eat, feral hogs. Ten years ago, Griffiths, who owns Dai Due Supper Club in Austin, started running a “school” that teaches people how to properly butcher and cook the whole animal. Last year, he devoted a cookbook to it.
Cons: Not the most efficient method of population control, requiring a hyper-focus on one hog at a time.
4. Pair up with a loved one and go hog-wild, as if you are Bonnie and Clyde and the swine are G-men.
South Texan couple Robert and Vicky Lyles have been trapping and killing feral hogs since 2014. They take out an estimated one thousand pigs per year, and ranchers and wildlife refuge operators have come to rely upon their services.
Cons: Things famously didn’t end well for Bonnie and Clyde.
5. Have your local billionaires shoot them with bows and arrows, but encourage them to kill hogs in California this time, not Hawaii.
Filthy rich hobbyist Mark Zuckerberg has already displayed a fondness for bow-and-arrow hog hunting. However, he hunts them in Hawaii, which doesn’t do California much good. Northern California probably has as many nerdy millionaires and billionaires as they do feral hogs; if you can convince them that hunting California boars will make them cool, they might really do some damage.
Cons: Your billionaires may become even douchier.
Pros: Zuckerberg has a positive effect on the world around him for once.
6. Go undercover as a hog, infiltrate their network, identify the source of their power, and take them down from the inside.
At press time, no one in Texas has ever pretended to be a feral hog, at least not to my knowledge. Perhaps an undercover operation could reveal just what sort of sorcery keeps these hog populations growing, and growing, and growing, no matter how many helicopters and semiautomatic rifles we deploy. You Californians are always going on about how good you are at innovation, so why don’t you disrupt the way we even think about feral hog population control.
Cons: Almost certainly impossible.
Pros: But if you pull it off, you’ll be named Time’s Hog of the Year.
7. HogStop them in their tracks
Feral pig populations mushroom as they do in part because females can birth multiple sizable litters of piglets per year; if the boys can’t get the girls in the family way, pig populations would be significantly easier to manage using other methods. A contraceptive pig feed called HogStop, made of “natural feedstuffs,” apparently reduces the sperm count of male hogs.
Cons: Figuring out how to get the hogs to eat the feed in large quantities while keeping deer, sheep, goats, or bulls from ingesting any.
Pros: Sid Miller loves HogStop, for better or for worse.
8. Sit back and accept that evolutionarily the hogs are beating us right now. Start thinking of ways that you can serve them after they take over.
Human birth rates are declining, and if HogStop doesn’t work, the feral piglets will just keep coming. If you take the thousand-year view, it doesn’t seem like we’re going to win the war against the boar. Maybe start planning for a future. What can you do to please the hogs?
Cons: It’s the end of the world as we know it.
Pros: Feral hogs might be better leaders than our current politicians.