Shooting feral hogs and coyotes from hot air balloons may soon be legal in Texas.
Last week, the Texas Legislature approved a bill to legalize hunting those porcine marauders and those depredating dogs from giant balloons provided one obtains a permit. The bill now heads to the desk of Gov. Greg Abbott for his signature.
Though it may sound like a joke, the reality is that feral hogs, in particular, are a big problem in the Lone Star State. According to researchers at Texas A&M:
Of the estimated 4 to 5 million feral hogs in the United States, approximately 2 million call Texas home. Feral hogs can be found in approximately 230 of our 254 counties and cause an estimated $52 million of damage to Texas agricultural enterprises each year. However, feral hogs are causing an increasing amount of damage in suburban/urban areas because of vehicle collisions and landscape damage.
“We’ve got a problem here and we are willing to fix it ourselves,” state representative Mark Keogh told the Texas Observer. “We have that Western, swashbuckling, cowboying type of way to deal with things. It’s part of the culture, it’s different than any other state.”
We’ve all seen those videos of people hunting hogs from helicopters. The problem with that approach is that helicopters are loud. Those smart little piggies can hear you coming from miles away. Plus, shooting from a chopper isn’t as easy nor efficient as it appears.
A hot air balloon, on the other hand, is quieter and gives one a more stable platform from which to shoot. Think of it, a balmy Texas day. You’re ballooning in the clouds, high above the world, and then suddenly you descend over a grazing sounder of swine. Pop, pop, pop! So long Mr. Pig and company!
“It’s not a joke anymore,” said Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, who introduced the measure. “It’s not just an agricultural problem.
“Now they are uprooting tombstones in cemeteries; they are damaging golf courses, city parks and suburban lawns,” he added.