Feral hogs and Barbary sheep threaten native species in Big Bend National Park

Feral hogs and Barbary sheep threaten native species in Big Bend National Park

BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK, TX (KWES) - The National Park Service needs your help in maintaining Big Bend National Park's natural and cultural resources.

They have a 30-day review and comment period that begins on Jan. 29 and will stay open for 30 days.

The National Park Service is proposing to control the population of species of aoudad (Barbary sheep) and feral hogs by lethal means. They said the non-native species are consuming the native species, altering species composition, threatening biodiversity and impairing visitors' ability to experience the park in its natural condition.

Aoudad have been in Big Bend National Park for the past 30 years but their population has grown. The park estimates there are around 200-400 aoudads while feral hogs population is low. However, they are expected to invade the heavily vegetated Rio Grande corridor over the years. This is why the park wants to prevent the feral hogs from invading the Chisos Mountains, where there are endangered and rare native species.

The environmental assessment is considering two alternatives:
1. No action 
2. Limited aerial shooting from a helicopter, ground-based live-trapping and shooting of aoudad and feral hogs.

Aerial control will only be performed by experienced professionals and only lead-free bullets will be used. The aerial control will only happen during the summer when there are few visitors and only several days out of the year.

The Plan and Environmental Assessment are being prepared with the National Environmental Policy Act. The plan and associated documents can be viewed here.

The NPS prefers comments be submitted in writing on the same site. However, comments may be submitted by email here, in writing at public meetings or through mail through this address:

PO Box 129 
Big Bend National Park, TX 79834

A meeting following the discussion of the proposal will be open to the public on Feb. 13 at the Brewster County Multi-Purpose Facility in Study Butte. The next meeting will be at the Sul Ross State University Morgan Conference Center in Alpine on Feb. 14. Both meetings will begin at 6 p.m.

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