From Farms, Land and Ranch Real Estate

Wildlife Management Property Tax Valuation: If your trapping hogs, your almost there!

Posted in: Texas Ranches, Hunting, Texas Farms, Recreation, Recreational Ranches
By Kristen Tyson, M.A.

Wildlife Management Plans (WMP) are usually created by landowners or managers who have a vision for their property and seek to utilize all that the land has to offer, whether it’s part of their livelihood, to be hunted, or simply to be enjoyed as a nice getaway spot. A successful plan will incorporate several key activities that not only benefit native birds and wildlife, but livestock as well, where applicable. For landowners who create and implement these plans, the time and money invested are usually worth more than they expected. The land flourishes and native plant and animal species are healthy and diverse. 

Thanks to changes in Texas legislation, updated laws allow landowners who already qualify for Agricultural Valuations, or Ag Exemptions, can now switch to wildlife management under the same valuation. This change creates an environment where agriculture-based lands can diversify their activities to attract wildlife, further allowing the land to rest from grazing, without losing tax credits.
There are 7 activities to choose from when creating a WMP but only 3 are required. They include: habitat control, erosion control, predator control, providing supplemental water, providing supplemental food, and providing supplemental shelter.

So what counts as predator control? Predators are known species that compete with or threaten native species. Imported red fire ants, brown-headed cowbirds, grackle, starling, house sparrow, coyotes, feral hogs, raccoons, skunks, feral cats and dogs are all part of predator control. Although each of these invasive animals needs to be eradicated, feral hogs/cats/dogs are a priority species for removal.
Some landowners view feral hogs complacently and see them as potential investments for hunting purposes, but the sad truth is that they cause more damage to the land and to native deer and other species than the price tag on their heads, or snouts, is worth. Feral hogs not only devastate crops and pastures (They have been linked to at least $52 million in agricultural damage, annually in Texas.), they are also responsible for automobile accidents and contributing to increased bacteria levels in watersheds across the state.

Some land managers simply wanting the benefits of the tax valuation choose predator control and half-heartedly pursue the trapping of feral hogs. Whatever your reasons for choosing predator control, realize that like habitat control or providing supplemental water supplies, you cannot be successful unless you give it 100%. I would advise you to do some homework before buying traps or setting snares. There are resources (publications, videos) available by the dozen to help you understand the steps it takes to effectively catch feral hogs. Simply buying a trap because it was on sale and putting it just anywhere on your property will get you the same amount of results as the effort you put into it: minimal. Call your local County Extension Agent to find out what the best management practices for your land are, for free! And execute their advice! If you plan on purchasing a tractor, you wouldn’t just go find the cheapest one on the lot with no idea what it’s capable of. You would do some research, shop around, and ask professionals what would work best for your land. 

If you are already implementing predator control along with two other activities, you may be able to qualify for your county’s wildlife tax valuation. Contact your local Appraisal District for more details about a wildlife management exemption. Remember, local wildlife professionals are available to consult with landowners and managers to ensure the measures being used to control predators are beneficial to your land and to offer advice on trapping or selling feral hogs. For more information on feral hog management, visit our website Coping with Feral Hogs for publications and the feral hog video series at AgriLife YouTube.

Source: Wild Wonderings Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service

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