Feral Hogs Damaging Rush Springs Watermelon Crop

Wednesday, August 23rd 2017, 6:32 pm
By: Aaron Brilbeck

Some Oklahoma farmers have a serious problem. Wild hogs going hog wild on their watermelon crop.

Rush Springs is the watermelon capitol of Oklahoma. Home to 1,300 people, and thousands of feral hogs. 

"We had hogs come in and just root up all of the plants and watermelons that have been in here,” said Dillon Jones of Sooner J Ranch. “Been trying to stop them all year but they keep coming back and they come back harder and harder every time."

Once the hogs uprooted the plants the watermelons can't survive.  

“It's died,” Jones said. “It's gonna die in a few days."

In fact, Jones says about half his crop has been destroyed. Killing the hogs, one at a time, doesn't make a dent in the destruction. 

“Once you kill one or two of them, they stay away for awhile, but once you give them a little bit of ease of slack they come right back. And, you can see the damage that they've done," Jones said.

Oklahoma Wildlife Services tries to manage the feral hog population with a combination of state and federal money. The Trump administration plans cuts, and with the state facing a $200 million shortfall after a Supreme Court ruling that the tobacco fee was unconstitutional, more cuts could be on the way.

Scott All with Wildlife Services says they've trapped more hogs this year than last, despite cuts last year, but that could be because the hog population is growing.

Until more help arrives farmers are left trying to tackle the problem on their own the best they can.  

"I've trapped and got numbers of them out of the area. We've had a helicopter come over and kill them but they just don't stay away,” Jones said. “You have to kill every last one of them."