Texas Governor Rick Perry just signed a new law, referred to as the “pork chopper bill,” that now makes aerial hunting of feral pigs and coyotes legal as of September 1.
While Texas laws have previously allowed for aerial hunting, (last year, hunters holding land owner’s authorization (LOA) permits killed 14,811 pigs from the air), the new change will allow any hunter with a license to lease hunting rights from landowners and rent seats on helicopters and act as gunner. The law was passed in an effort to deal with the state’s estimated two million feral hogs that are causing millions of dollars of damage to property, agriculture and wildlife, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Vertex Helicopters, based in Houston, will offer its services and require hunters to take a safety class costing $350, in addition to charging $450 an hour with a minimum of three hours in the air where hunters can blast away with semiautomatic rifles and kill as many pigs as they want and/or can.
Opponents of the new law argue that aerial hunting is an inhumane means of trying to control populations of wild pigs, as pigs are more likely to be simply wounded. Other problems with managing numbers also arise when considering their population growth and spread, as hunters themselves have been contributing to their reach by trapping, transporting and releasing them to create new hunting populations.
“Most important, we must deal with the hunters who are helping pigs spread. Laws on the transportation and release of hogs should be toughened so that the penalties reflect the damage done. A new North Carolina law, to go into effect Oct. 1, moves in the right direction by setting the penalty for unapproved transport at up to $5,000 per hog,” wrote Mark Essig in an opinion piece in the New York Times. Similarly, New York is currently considering a ban on canned hunts in an effort to prevent wild pig populations from exploding.
Meanwhile, Texans are gearing up for the three-month “Get the Hogs Outta Texas” competition, where the top five hog-killing counties win a total of $60,000 in grant money.
Photo credit: Gerard Eviston via flickr