Texas A&M AgriLife Extension’s John Tomecek has been named chair-elect of the National Wild Pig Task Force.
Tomecek serves as an assistant professor and extension wildlife specialist in Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s department of rangeland, wildlife and fisheries management in Thrall. He has previously been the co-chair of the Texas Wild Pig Task Force.
“John’s drive, desire and leadership potential led to his nomination to the national task force leadership position,” said Michael Bodenchuk, director of Texas Wildlife Services, in a press release from AgriLife. “John has leveraged state and cooperative funding to develop better educational programs, refine methods for collecting damage data and demonstrate successful methods to Texans. It was natural for him to lead the National Task Force.”
Bodenchuk nominated Tomecek for the position.
The National Wild Pig Task Force states it is a leadership group that works with state, federal, provincial and private conservation partners with the goal of using science-based control to reduce and eventually eradicate free-ranging wild pig populations in North America. The group adds that wild pigs cause billions of dollars of damage each year to forestry, agriculture and natural resources throughout North America.
Tomecek told AgriLife that Texas has been a longtime leader in wild pig issues and management.
“That’s good and bad,” Tomecek told AgriLife. “In many ways, we are the leader because we have the worst pig problems in the country. At the same time, this allows us to be a leader in helping other states. We can say ‘Here’s where you’re at; your pig problems are Texas circa 1987. Here’s what you need to do, and here are the pitfalls ahead.’ It allows those of us in Texas to guide meaningful pig management across the country.”
Tomecek added that the National Wild Pig Task Force works to provide objective information to state legislatures and Congress.
“When things come up in those bodies, it generally relates to policy makers debating wild pig control related to issues such as health and human safety, animal agriculture and health, protection of food securities and national security through food,” Tomecek told AgriLife. “Also, when there are management approaches that are being researched and there are questions about the humaneness and efficacy of control methods, we act as a scientific body that can provide information without any vested interest.”
Tomecek told AgriLife his research has an emphasis on methods to improve trapping efficacy, new styles of traps and methods to exclude pigs from certain areas by using different fencing techniques. Tomecek added that he has conducted large-scale surveys of hunters, agricultural producers and other stakeholders with direct questions about whether people manage pigs and why or why not.
“We were able to identify key elements that are barriers to people managing pigs,” Tomecek told AgriLife. “Sometimes it is ‘Gosh, it’s a lot of time, or it’s a lot of money’ or sometimes it’s ‘I don’t feel like I have the technical knowledge.’ So, we were able to help solve the people side of that equation and help push management of wild pigs in Texas as well as nationwide over the hump we’ve been in, and we are starting to break new ground.”