By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
As the largest piece of protected land in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge’s (LANWR) 97,000 acres serve as crucial habitat for several endangered species. It is a haven for animals that exist nowhere else in the state, and in some places, nowhere else in the entire country, such as the rare ocelot and the aplomado falcon. But the unique habitat within the refuge is threatened by the disruptive presence of invasive species, both plant and animal. One such species is the feral hog.
Feral hogs are pernicious, adaptable animals that reproduce often and aren’t picky about what they eat. “Feral hogs are omnivores. They eat everything that they can. So they root up and eat vegetation. They also will eat snakes and small mammals,” LANWR Manager Boyd Blihovde said Wednesday afternoon.
” When they’re rooting things up, that really destroys the habitat and that allows the invasive species, especially invasive grasses to take over,” he said.
As such, refuge personnel are always seeking ways to help control the hog population in order to mitigate their impact on native species. One way it has done so in the past is by opening up the refuge’s land to public hunts, where hunters can harvest hogs, deer, and another invasive species, nilgai.
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