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Texas Senate Approves Feral Hog Hunting From Hot Air Balloons

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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter

Texas lawmakers approved a measure Wednesday that would allow the shooting of feral hogs from air balloons, in hopes that hunters will use the airborne option to make a dent in the state’s destructive wild hog population.

The state senate bill, which has yet to be signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott, authorizes hunting licenses for shooting both hogs and coyotes from balloons. Lawmakers hope that the creative measure will help cull a growing feral hog population, which causes millions of dollars worth of damages to crops each year.

Texas already allows the shooting of feral hogs from helicopters, but the method is prohibitively expensive and hasn’t had much success, reports the Associated Press. Hunters say shooting from helicopters is impractical because they are too bumpy and their rotor noise scares away the animals.

Hot air balloons, on the other hand, are basically silent and and offer a more stable shooting platform.

The hogs’ high breeding rate and lack of natural predators has caused their population to explode. Texas now has more than 2 million wild hogs, according to state estimates.

The state has previously approved the use of poison to kill off the hog population, but the company that makes the only EPA-approved hog pesticide withdrew its request for registration in Texas. Citing the threat of lawsuits from “special interests,” Scimetrics said in April that it would no longer pursue a contract with the state.

“Under the threat of many lawsuits, our family-owned company cannot at this time risk the disruption of our business and continue to compete with special interests in Texas that have larger resources to sustain a lengthy legal battle,” the company said in a statement.

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