SUGAR LAND, Texas - As the city grows, more feral hogs are being caught on camera in Houston suburbs.
One large herd has been spotted tearing up neighborhoods while running through streets in Sugar Land. Residents are left wondering if there is anything they can do about the problem.
The herd of hogs didn't were out and about on Thanksgiving when a viewer captured a cell phone video of them crossing Austin Pkwy in Sugar Land shortly before midnight.
"They were marching from the backside. It was quite a family. I would say two dozen," says one resident in a neighborhood near the crossing.
Other homeowners say they’ve seen the same herd of wild hogs, known as a sounder before, most likely digging for worms and other grub in the area.
Edward Dickey with Texas Wild Hog Control points out an open field nearby where dozens of small patches of grass have been dug up and overturned.
"This is pretty much what you’re going to see every time, this type of damage," he says.
"Sometimes they get into sprinkler systems, and that can be really expensive to repair."
Feral pigs can also carry E.coli and diseases like anthrax which can get into water systems.
"The state of Texas sees it as a private property issue. City services and animal control will not deal with it," explains Dickey.
Female hogs can birth on average between five and 10 pigs each year. Homeowners may find it impossible to permanently keep growing families from returning to their property, especially as activity increases during cold, rainy weather, and the swine travel further to find food.
Dickey recommends residents appeal to their homeowners' associations to hire professional trappers. The process could take a few days or weeks depending on the size of the sounder.
"When we’re in the city limits, there are firearm restrictions, so if we need to take out the hogs, what we’ll use is a high-powered air rifle. It’s 3,000 pounds of air pressure," explains Dickey. His tracking and trapping process includes the use of thermal imaging equipment and infrared cameras.
"That’s the main thing we have to battle- their intelligence," he adds. Researchers have ranked pigs as one of the top five intelligent animals. Their ability to outsmart dogs has made them particularly tough to trap.
Also, people are often afraid of the wild pigs, but Dickey says they don’t typically attack unless they feel cornered.
"Even the biggest 300-pound boar is going to run from you if he has a way out," says Dickey, but he also explains that wild hogs can be deadly to pets, especially for mothers protecting their young.
Be cautious in areas where they've been spotted, especially during early mornings or late evenings, and if you see a herd in person, "turn around and go the other way," says Dickey.