Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Managing the Feral Hog Menaceon MatagordaIsland National Wildlife Refuge By: Amanda Diaz
Southwest Region, August 2, 2008
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Feral Hog on Matagorda Island  Chad Stinson 08/02/2207
Feral Hog on Matagorda Island Chad Stinson 08/02/2207 - Photo Credit: n/a
Young Kemp's Ridley Sea turtle  Barb Threatt 6/25/2008
Young Kemp's Ridley Sea turtle Barb Threatt 6/25/2008 - Photo Credit: n/a

  In an effort to protect and maintain the sensitive ecosystem on Matagorda Island, employees of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge conducted a hunt to control the fast-spreading feral hog population.

Aside from being a night-time driving hazard, feral hogs have a severe environmental impact, most notably the destruction of habitat of native wildlife and predation of wildlife. This is especially important to Matagorda Island during the summer months when endangered Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles come ashore to nest. Turtle patrollers on Matagorda Island watch for signs of nesting and excavate the eggs when they find nests. The eggs are then sent to be incubated, hatched and released in an effort to revive the endangered species. Hogs threaten this process because they are known to dig up and eat the eggs. They will also prey on sea turtle hatchlings trying to make their way to the sea for the first time. However, it is not only the turtles that suffer. Since feral hogs compete for food with other animals, including white-tailed deer, turkey, bobcat and javelina, other native species suffer because of the hogs rapidly growing population. The feral hogs will also prey on the young of these other animals.

In only three days, 392 hogs were exterminated from the Island by USDA and refuge employees. This control effort will help ensure that native wildlife and their habitats are protected from the menacing effects of the feral hog overpopulation.

Contact Info: Chad Stinson, (361) 286-3559, chad_stinson@fws.gov
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