Texas

Texas Wildlife Officials Ranch Owners Continue to Use Semi-Automatic Weapons to Treat Wild Boar as a National Firearms Debate

SAN ANTONIO – The use and sale of the semi-automatic rifle AR-15 were in the public eye after the tragedy at Robb Primary School in Uwalde at the end of last month, which killed 21 people.

There have been many calls to ban the AR-15, which have been used in several mass shootings across the country.

But firearms are also commonly used in local livestock and farming communities, especially when working with wild boars in South Texas.

Jourdanten resident Joseph Meyer owns a helicopter company called Flying J Services. Many farmers and ranchers hire him to fly over their properties to shoot and kill wild boars.

“AR-15 is used a lot from the air and from the ground,” Mayer said. “The rifle is probably one of the best ways to get rid of as many as you can at once.”

Firearms are also used by wildlife officials who conduct daily operations to control wild boar populations.

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“Ground fire not only removes individual pigs, but also sends a signal to other pigs in the sound or that this is not a safe place,” said Michael Bodenchuk, state director of the Cooperative Texas Wildlife Services program.

Bodenchuk said that despite these measures, these invasive species are still causing millions of dollars in damage to land and crops.

“We estimate the damage to agriculture and natural resources at over $ 500 million a year in Texas alone,” Bodenchuk said.

The state uses a variety of methods to treat feral pigs, including capture, and is now evaluating a pilot program involving landowners using toxic substances.

Bodenchuk said these tests are in the testing phase and the use of the AR-15 remains one of the department’s most effective tools.

“The pigs will leave the field if several members of the herd are shot. We use semi-automatic firearms from the ground to pull out as much as possible. “They are an effective tool in the fight against wild boar,” Bodenchuk said. “Last year we removed more than 51,000 feral pigs to protect crops and agriculture.

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However, Bodenchuk said the ministry had no say in whether landowners should use firearms or not.

“This is the decision of the landowner. The simple fact is that the government cannot control wild boars on its own. We need the involvement of landowners to be effective. So we want landowners to be involved in controlling wild boars. “Whether you do it with firearms, traps or any other method depends on them,” Bodenchuk said.

Mayer is a landowner and has owned a gun for most of his life. He said that for many it is part of the culture in rural or agricultural areas.

“My father taught me several times. “You learned early on how to handle a gun, how to handle it and how to respect it,” Mayer said. “My children have been around guns since they were little and have been taught what they can’t. This is education. It’s learning and discipline. “

Mayer said there was no easy solution to the arms control and regulation debate.

“This is an extremely sad thing that has happened all over the country, not just in Uwalde, and it is something we have to deal with,” Mayer said. “Few age-restriction laws and the like could make a difference. I do not believe that banning weapons will solve the problem. “

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And while the debate over the use of AR-15 will remain at the front and in the center, Mayer and others believe that for the time being, these firearms will continue to be used to hunt and treat wild boars in rural areas.

“There are already areas in Texas where breeders can’t plant certain crops because of wild boar damage. We cannot plant peanuts, for example, in many areas because of pigs. And corn is not acceptable in areas with a high density of pigs, “Bodenchuk said. “If there was no control, both landowners and state control, we would have lost some of our agricultural output, which is our second largest commodity in Texas.

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Texas Wildlife Officials Ranch Owners Continue to Use Semi-Automatic Weapons to Treat Wild Boar as a National Firearms Debate

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