August 25, 2011
AUSTIN – Effective Sept. 1, qualified individuals can pay to take depredating feral hogs or coyotes from a helicopter under rules adopted by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.
The commission at its Thursday, Aug. 25 public meeting approved permit requirements for implementation of HB-716 passed by the 82nd Texas Legislature. The new law is aimed at helping manage feral hogs or coyotes by allowing qualified landowners or their agents to participate in management of feral hogs or coyotes from a helicopter. Previously, a person was prohibited from paying, bartering or exchanging anything of value to participate as a gunner or observer from an aircraft.
About 130 helicopter operations are currently permitted by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to conduct aerial management of depredating feral hogs or coyotes. The new rules permit qualified landowners or their qualified agents to pay these helicopter operators to participate in aerial operations.
To qualify, landowners or landowner agents must have on file with TPWD a completed Landowner’s Authorization to Manage Wildlife or Exotic Animals by Aircraft (LOA) form. There is no application fee to become qualified, but the LOA does not take effect until TPWD issues an authorization number.
Individuals convicted of a federal Lacey Act violation, or a Parks and Wildlife Code Class A misdemeanor or felony, are prohibited from obtaining an aerial management permit, and from being a gunner, observer or pilot under an aerial management permit.
Feral hog populations in Texas are estimated at upwards of 2 million. According to a Texas Department of Agriculture study, each hog is responsible for $50-500 in damage to agriculture and wildlife habitat annually.