Flying Pig Hunters
Feral hog helicopter hunt debate chews up time as clock counts down
By Richard Whittaker,
11:32PM, Thu. May 14, 2009
Feral hogs are an issue in many areas of rural Texas: They're big, and they trample fences and ruin crops. But with less than two hours left on the clock for second reading from the daily and supplemental, the House got bogged down in a lengthy and amendment-riddled debate about hunting feral hogs from helicopters.
The House was debating HB 836 by Rep. Sid Miller, R-Stephenville, but it got caught up on the issue of selling a seat on the helicopter. As Reps. Eddie Lucio III, D-Brownsville, and Kristi Thibaut, D-Houston, pointed out, as written the bill turned what is supposed to be population control into for-profit sports hunting. Miller's defense was that it's obviously not a sport hunting measure, because it's not the sport hunting section of the code (Plus, there's nothing wrong with turning a profit.) Lucio countered with an amendment that limited them to covering costs only (that measure was tabled easily.)
Thibaut then presented an unsuccessful measure limiting helicopter hog hunting to counties with a population less than 30,000. "30,000 what? Hogs or people?" asked Dan Gattis, who said this wasn't about population control but eradication.
Both Lucio and Thibault were quick to boost their hunting credentials, but Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, was less bothered about upsetting the "eat what you kill" crowd. Miller said the animal wouldn't suffer because it was a close-range shot. "You think it's close range from a helicopter?" asked Burnam.
"Yes I do," said Miller, causing a raised eyebrow from the honorable member for Fort Worth.
The bill, unsurprisingly, passed. Eh, it's a hunting bill in Texas, what do you expect?