The SXSW Interactive conference, also known as the week that launches a thousand apps, begins today. Start-ups will be pitching their app as The One to Out-Social Them All, whether it’s an app that helps you avoid humans, or, in case you’ve encountered too many humans, an app that can help you get tested for STDs.
But an app with a special impact for Texans outside the throng of techies is being promoted today, too. It’s to help farmers, ranchers and landowners better deal with the epidemic of invasive feral hogs.
“Epidemic” isn’t overstating it. According to research by Texas A&M Agrilife, there are at least an estimated 2,6 million feral hogs in the Lone Star State, doing $52 million of damage every year. The hogs cause car accidents, destroy crops and land, and threaten waterways. And, like the many people moving here, they love Texas: almost 80 percent of the state is a suitable habitat for the hogs, according to Agrilife.
So how to get rid of them? That’s where the 99-cent Texas A&M Feral Hog Management app comes in. It will give you a recipe for feral hog bait, or show you how to build a snare. Or if you really want to make the most out of your hog-killing experience, there’s even a section on “pork-chopping,” the expensive (and arguably ineffective) practice of hunting feral hogs by helicopter.
The app takes the information already out there on hog management and puts it in one easy-to-navigate, mobile place. It doesn’t have any interactive functions, like reporting hog sightings or damage, so their population could be better tracked.
“With the information in this app alone, a landowner could conceivably identify, plan, and implement a highly effective feral hog management plan to rid his property of feral hogs and, with vigilance, keep it hog-free,” Mark Tyson, AgriLife Extension wildlife and fisheries associate at College Station said in a press release promoting the app.
Texas A&M Agrilife also holds regular workshops for landowners on trapping the beasts. But this is an uphill battle. The hogs reproduce quickly, so much so that even if the state captures or kills (or as Agrilife calls it, “harvests”) a huge number of them, their population will still grow. Right now Texas harvests nearly a third of the existing population each year, but their population is still expected to double every five years. Just to keep the feral hog population stable, Texas needs to kill or capture twice the amount it is now. That means to avoid their numbers growing even more, we need to “harvest” two-thirds of the existing feral hogs each year.