Board of Directors Regular Meeting Agenda


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Meeting Date: 12/04/2019  

SUBJECT MATTER:
Receive, consider and act upon a discussion regarding feral hogs in Windsor Hills (as requested by Director Snyder);
FISCAL IMPACT:
It is estimated that one feral hog trap will cost approximately $46,800 per year.  Best practices indicate that a feral hog trapping program is on-going with a minimum of three years of regular trapping to stabilize a hog population in a given area.  A community wide trapping program may require a minimum of six traps.  Total estimated costs for trapping services is approximately $850,000 for the three-year period.

It is estimated that wrought iron fencing costs approximately $25.00 per linear foot installed.  The total linear footage to close open space reserves adjacent to known feral hog areas throughout the community is unknown, but projected to be in the thousands of linear feet.  The linear footage of openings around Windsor Hills is estimated to be 400 lf. which if fenced, could cost approximately $10,000. 
BACKGROUND:
The Woodlands environment provides a great habitat for wildlife and most of the wildlife is embraced by Woodlands homeowners.  However,  feral hogs create a nuisance situation when this natural habitat is located in proximity to neighborhoods.  Depending on the time of year and weather conditions,  the Township receives numerous complaints from neighborhoods, primarily those that are located close to creek areas or forest land such as Grogan’s Point, Indian Springs, Sterling Ridge,  Creekside Park, Windvale and Windsor Hills.  With these complaints come requests from residents that the Township trap the nuisance feral hogs and to install fencing across open space reserves and drainage easements.  Up to this date,  the Township has not trapped feral hogs but has relied on the County, the Development Company or the private property owners to provide the trapping and removal services.  

Attached is an executive summary from November, 2017,  when the Township received similar requests to trap feral hogs.  There are a number of issues that need to be examined when considering the trapping of feral hogs.   The State of Texas has declared that feral hogs are the responsibility of the respective land owner.  For the Township to be involved in trapping,  the Township would need to acquire certain rights or easements to trap on property it does not own.  The typical trapping area for feral hogs is fairly large as it typically requires the construction of large pens.   Another issue to be considered is that trapping on Township property in open space reserves or park areas is not advised as feral hogs are attracted to the area by baiting the site which can bring more animals into areas around residential properties and public areas during the trapping period. 

Most recently, residents are requesting the Township to install fencing or to permit adjacent land owners the right to install fencing across openings in Township open space reserves and drainage easements which are thought to be the primary access routes for the feral hogs into neighborhoods.  The majority of openings in the fences around neighborhood sections are left open due to 1) the underlying drainage easements; 2) pedestrian access to trails; 3) exclude fence maintenance repair and replacement costs for the Township; and 4) wildlife corridors.Consideration of fencing should be examined in partnership with The Woodlands Land Development Company, which owns most of the adjacent undeveloped properties that could be impacted by fencing, the San Jacinto River Authority and the various Woodlands MUD's relative to potential drainage impacts.

This is a widespread issue, one that is not specific to one area of The Woodlands or The Woodlands at large.  Biologists estimate that 70 percent of the wild hogs in the state must be killed just to keep their numbers in check and even more to reduce current numbers. The main reason is that hogs breed almost as quickly as rabbits. They become sexually mature before they are a year old and can produce as many as 2 to 3 litters of up to 6 to 8 piglets each every year. They quickly respond to hunting and trapping pressure by changing their habitats.  Since they are known to roam over extremely long distances in search of food, this makes long term hog control measures difficult and complicated.  Hogs are also very intelligent and resilient. 

Recognizing that there has been a resurgence of feral hogs in the community that are causing resident alarm, concern and property damage, the Township's Parks, Recreation and Environmental Services staff are working with representatives of Jones State Forest and others to conduct a community forum "Walk in the Woods Nature Lecture" on the feral hog issue.  Experts would present educational information on feral hog awareness and control measures.  Information on feral hogs and other wildlife common to The Woodlands can be also obtained by registering for the Township's Environmental Services blog.
 
RECOMMENDATION:
Board to determine course of action.
Attachments
Attachment A - Executive Summary Feral Hogs 2017
ADDITIONAL MATERIALS_PHOTOS OF FERAL HOG DAMAGE
AADDITIONAL MATERIALS_Feral Hog Abatement Efforts in The Woodlands DFW Case Studies combined


    

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