Smartphones help farmers with wild hogs

Published On: Sep 08 2013 11:20:09 PM CDT
Updated On: Sep 08 2013 11:43:32 PM CDT

They run wild through neighborhoods and farm land across Southeast Texas. Wild hogs have become a real nuisance to property and crops, but there's a new weapon in this growing battle. Owen Conflenti reports.

HOUSTON -

Some Texas farmers are in a battle to save their crops from wild hogs. It's an issue of nature which makes the fight so hard to win. 

A lot has changed in Brookshire since JD Woods' father planted his first rice crop in 1935.

The city is much bigger now. The farming equipment is high-tech and there's a modern problem Woods' dad never had to deal with -- wild hogs tearing up their land.

"Anything we tried, you know, whether it was helicopters, hunting with dogs, trapping them in small traps, it wasn't working," said Woods.

Woods estimates he's had the problem for about 20 years and says it's gotten worse recently. 

Last year the hogs did about $40,000 in damage to the farm, tearing up crops and ruining the irrigation system.

"If you thought your water was going here, you get there the next morning and it's going maybe down the county ditch," said Woods. "If we didn't do something down here, the 40 that we lost last year could be 80 real easy, real easy."

To help protect his land and his livelihood, Woods invested in two special traps made by a company called Goin Fencing.

"Since 2009 we're getting close to 10,000 hogs over the United States," said Don Gresham with Goin Fencing. "We're heavy here in Houston. We're on a lot of rice farms, corn fields, wheat fields, maze fields. Where they have a problem, we get it setup."

It's basically an old school trap with a high tech twist. The hungry hogs are lured into the trap looking for something to eat. What the hogs don't know is they're being captured on a camera which sends an image directly to the farmer's cell phone. With one push of a button on the cell phone, the gate drops and the hogs are trapped.

"We watched them come in at night and some of them stay outside. We watched all of that. We were patient. And when they finally decided it was time for all of them to get in the pen, we closed the gate," said Woods.

For Woods and other farmers, it's more than just being patient. They're in a battle of wits with these animals.

Fool the hogs once, but not often twice.

"They catch on to the small traps, they catch on to the helicopters, they hear them coming and they know how to hide," said Woods. "So something like this will work for a while in one place, and you probably got to move and find some other hogs."

Woods caught close to 100 hogs between his two traps in the first two months alone, and his crop fared much better this year.

The traps more than paid for themselves, and by the sounds of it, they'll keep paying off for years to come.

"Hogs are producing maybe three litters a year. That may be 30 babies a year. So they're busy. If I don't stay busy they'll over run the place," said Woods. 

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