Wild boars are a nuisance in several states, with a rapid breeding cycle and the ability to cause thousands in damages in just a few minutes. Because of this, the business of hog hunting has been growing in states like Texas, which suffers from the largest population of wild hogs in the United States.
To combat the problem, Texas lawmakers want to make it much easier for hunters to cull the hog population. That’s why they recently made it legal to hunt feral hogs from hot air balloons. The reason? Helicopters make too much noise. Already, hunters, ranchers, and farmers in the Midwest are encouraged to shoot these nuisance animals on sight.
First introduced to the United States nearly 500 years ago by Spanish explorers, the wild hog reproduces at a rate of 12 to 20 piglets every year, and these giant pests have caused $1.5 billion in damages annually.
According to CNN Money, the hog population has grown so out of control in Texas that some companies are turning to extreme hunting measures. With a population of 2.6 million wild hogs, and growing fast, some hunters even take to the air in a helicopter and lay into hogs with full auto AR-15s.
It’s apparently harder than it looks.
“Your target is running, and it’s not necessarily running in the same direction that the helicopter is flying,” said one hunter to KTAB in Abilene. “Imagine riding in a roller coaster while you’re trying to shoot something, and it’s moving.”
While airborne hunting might seem unusual, some states allow the practice so long as the species is overpopulated and causing damage to the ecosystem. But while hog hunting companies in Oklahoma, Texas, and other midwestern states are eliminating thousands of feral hogs each year, their efforts have hardly put a dent in the overall population.
Of course, while everyone can agree that this invasive species is causing direct harm to the ecosystem and the agricultural industry, some activists will never condone hunting.
“We’re against any kind of aerial gunning as a way to manage a conflict with wild animals, especially when it’s sort of farmed out like this,” said John Griffin, director of urban wildlife for the Humane Society of the United States. “They do take a toll on the environment, but they should be handled more humanely. This is more of a spectacle than a responsible way of managing them.”
However, Texas state lawmakers disagree. They are ruling in favor of more and more ways and methods to kill hogs, including by air.