If you’ve seen corn along one of the trails at the Port Aransas Nature Preserve at Charlie’s Pasture lately, it might be accidentally left over from efforts to trap and kill feral hogs.
Corn is used to lure feral hogs into a circular corral-style trap. Once caught, the hogs are killed and sometimes butchered for meat. The preserve works with trappers to manage the hog population.
About 40 feral hogs were caught in 2022 at the nature preserve. The effort continues this year, as the number of hogs in the preserve is high and needs to be managed. Wild hogs pose a threat to the preserve as they are nonnative creatures.
“They’re managed by pretty much all land landowners land managers,” said Rae Mooney, Nature Preserve manager. “The reasons that they’re not good here and most places is they’re very destructive to the habitat. They’ll tear up the marsh. And they’ve actually been tearing up the area along the new trails.” Releasing the hogs to another area is not an option because of the fact they are nonnative and would be a problem wherever they went.
Wild hogs not only damage habitats by rutting in the tidal flats and marsh areas, but they also trample bird nests on the ground and eat the eggs.
“All of those (ground-nesting bird) species are in decline,” Mooney said. “So it’s really important to do what we can to protect those nests, which is largely why the Nature Preserve was created.”
As well as feral hogs, coyotes can also be a threat to the Nature Preserve if the numbers are too high although native to the area, Mooney said. Preserve officials are in the process of collecting data on the numbers of coyotes at the preserve to determine if those populations also need to be managed, she said. Data collection started about a month ago.
“They also (eat) ground-nesting bird eggs,” Mooney said.
She said if the number of coyotes isn’t balanced and too high, “it can be detrimental to other native wildlife.”
Mooney said the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has stated that in environments like the Nature Preserve, where coyotes could be flocking due to urban encroachment, it would be beneficial to manage coyote populations.
Before any management is done, the plan would most likely have to go before the city’s Nature Preserve Advisory Board.
“The spring is coming, so we’re thinking a lot about nesting season for birds and making sure that they have success,” Mooney said.
Contact Kathryn Cargo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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