Board of Directors Regular Meeting Agenda


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Meeting Date: 02/20/2020  

SUBJECT MATTER:
Receive, consider and act upon an update on the feral hog issues (as requested by Director Snyder);
FISCAL IMPACT:
Research suggests that each feral hog is responsible for $200 in property damage per year.   With an estimated population in Texas of over 2.5 million feral hogs, the damage to property equates to over $500,000,000 in damage in Texas.  This does not include damage to residential landscapes.  Residents in The Woodlands have reported spending thousands of dollars to repair damaged landscapes caused by feral hogs. 

The cost to control feral hog populations depends upon the method of management and abatement. Best practices indicate that a feral hog trapping program is ongoing with a minimum of three years of regular trapping to stabilize a hog population.  The Township received updated cost estimates from AV Nuisance Wildlife Management and Control, LLC, as information for the potential for contracted trapping services (Attachment A).  Costs range from $5,800 per year for one trap to $58,000 per year for ten traps.  

The development of a Wildlife Management Plan is estimated at $25,000.

There has been no direct expense to the Township to produce the two educational seminars on feral hogs, other than Township staff time.  
BACKGROUND:
On January 22, 2020, the Township Board of Directors received a presentation on problems with feral hogs in the community.  The Board received public comments from residents in the neighborhoods of Grogan's Point and Windsor Hills.  Subsequently, the Board authorized the solicitation of proposals from professionally qualified consultants to provide a comprehensive review and develop recommendations for modifications to The Township’s Integrated Forest Management Plan (IFMP), with specific emphasis on the management of wildlife in the community’s parks and open space areas, including but not limited to feral hogs.

Proposals are due on February 19 at 5:00 p.m. The Board of Directors will receive an update on the solicitation at the February 20 Board of Directors meeting.  Staff will evaluate the proposals and present recommendations for Board consideration at the February 26 meeting.

On January 23, in response to resident concerns, Montgomery County Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack started a 90-day pilot program for feral hog management. More than 4 traps have been set on Montgomery County property at a cost of $14,500. As of February 11, over thirty feral hogs have been trapped.  The traps can be relocated as necessary throughout the area.

In December 2019, in response to a request from the Windsor Hills Homeowner's Association (WHHOA) for assistance to install a fence between the Windsor Hills neighborhood and Plantation Apartments, the Board of Directors directed staff to work with WHHOA and others to install the fence.   It was suggested the fence would help restrict feral hogs' access to the neighborhood from Jones State Forest, a known habitat for feral hogs.  WHHOA had previously installed fences across other access points around the neighborhood on WHHOA property.

Township staff coordinated approvals from the various land-owners and easement holders to install a temporary hog abatement fence.  Windsor Hills HOA agreed to fund a portion of the fence and the fence was installed the end of December.  The fence has proved to be successful in deterring hogs access from the west and no new hog damage occurred between the end of December through the end of January.  However, on January 28th, hogs again caused damage to the landscaping along the entry way to the neighborhood. Signs indicate the feral hogs came from the east along the utility corridor.  Township staff is coordinating approvals to install another fence with gates on the east side of the corridor along the drainage ditch.   

Recently, reports were received an extensive property damage caused by feral hogs in the Village of Indian Springs, Heritage Hills neighborhood.  This neighborhood is south of Flintridge, adjacent to the George Mitchell Nature Preserve and Spring Creek.  The property is owned by The Woodlands Land Development Company who has ongoing contracted trapping services occurring in the area. 
   
The Board of Directors was advised that the Township's Environmental Services Department was working to schedule community public educational forums for residents.  One program has occurred and one is scheduled for February 20.

On February 5 at the Recreation Center at Rob Fleming Park, Dr. John Tomecek presented a talk on "Feral Hogs in a Suburban Landscape." Dr. John Tomecek, Assistant Professor and Extension Wildlife Specialist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, is a leading expert in the State on feral hog biology and control. His agency’s mission is both scientific and educational, providing landowners and governmental bodies with support on the identification, management, and abatement of damages from feral hogs. In this presentation, Dr. Tomecek provided education on the history of feral hogs in Texas, their environmental and economic impacts, and best practices to homeowners needing to manage damages themselves.  Approximately 135 people attended the presentation and asked many questions.

On February 20 there will be a Going GREEN Lecture: "Feral Swine: Challenges and Control."  The presentation is in partnership with The Woodlands G.R.E.E.N. and is hosted by the Houston Advanced Research Center. Chris Watts will walk through the history of invasive feral swine in Texas, their ecological and economic impacts, wildlife-human interactions, and urban feral swine management practices and strategies including IPM (Integrated Pest Management). Chris Watts is the Wildlife Damage Management Biologist in the College Station district office of the USDA - Texas A&M AgriLife Extension – Texas Wildlife Services Program. There he helps private landowners and government entities alike with their nuisance wildlife issues while simultaneously assisting with disease sampling and disease prevention. Mr. Watts works in the field mitigating damage and loss related primarily to predators, vultures, aquatic mammals and feral swine.

The Township hosted an informal information sharing meeting with officials and representatives from State Representative Steve Toth's Office, Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough's Office, Montgomery County Precinct 2 Charlie Riley's Office, Montgomery County Precinct 3 James Noack's Office,  Harris County Precinct 4 Jack Cagle's Office, Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management, San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA), Woodlands Water Agency, Jones State Forest, Howard Hughes Corporation, and Lone Star College.

From the meeting, Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough offered to take the lead to schedule a working meeting(s) of these stakeholders and others in the next few weeks.  The purpose would be to collaborate on the potential for cooperative efforts to control feral hogs in the region.  For example, Texas AgriLife and Texas Wildlife Services provide technical support in the form of abatement and removal of feral hogs. Wildlife Services has cooperative agreements with many counties that provide support to residents and other agencies in the counties.  Those cooperating counties have access to statewide resources to conduct larger-scale periodic efforts on emerging issues related to wildlife damage.  These agencies and others can help the Township, Montgomery County and Harris County plan and implement strategies for managing damage in the long term. 
RECOMMENDATION:
Receive and accept the report.
Attachments
Attachment A - AV Nuisance Wildlife Management Proposal


    

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