BIG Country = BIG Predator Problems

Predators such as coyotes and feral hogs wreak havoc on large ranches in Texas — unless their numbers are aggressively controlled.

BIG Country = BIG Predator Problems

Shooter in flight with a .223 AR topped with a Trijicon Compact ACOG, locating targets.

The Lowrance Ranch, near Truscott, Texas, comprises 43,000 acres, thousands of which are untouched. And according to Colton Beam, the ranch wildlife manager, that’s predominantly by design. “We deem these vast portions of the ranch as “sanctuary areas” for our wildlife, so they can continue to feel low pressure and feel safe,” he said. “With that, the management of predators and feral hogs becomes a very serious, but oftentimes an unnoticed everyday chore by most. When these species have the ability to thrive without ever encountering a true threat outside of natural events, it can create a very noticeable strain on the range. 

“With a high concentration of predators, we not only see a drastic decrease in fawn crops, but also in our bobwhite quail, Rio Grande turkeys, calves and meat goats. There is a predatory-prey threshold in an ecosystem, but on a property of this magnitude, it is quite difficult to ever achieve that balance.” 

Feral hogs, Beam says, create a whole different set of problems on a property. “They reproduce very rapidly, having two to three litters per year and become of breeding age at 6 months old,” he said. “The most significant reason to actively target hogs is because they are known carriers of many diseases that can infect not only animals, but humans as well. They also cause damage to the property by rooting crop fields and ranch roads that costs us thousands of dollars annually. So staying on top of the predator and feral hog population is of utmost importance to us.”

When talking about managing these species, time is of the essence, according to Beam. “With the current outlawing of chemical applications here in the state of Texas, the only way for us to manage them is by hunting each animal individually or trapping,” he explained. “The most effective methods are by air, in a helicopter, and night hunting with thermal/night optics paired with a semi-automatic rifle. It isn’t uncommon to come up on a wheat field and see a sounder (pack of feral hogs) of 30-plus hogs, and it’s best to have as many opportunities as possible. During a recent hunt, we were able to remove roughly 180 feral hogs and 30 coyotes in a three-day time span using thermal optics and helicopters. That is a very significant number for the betterment of our property and the overall ecosystem.”


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.