Rusk County commissioners increase trapper compensation package
POSTED: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - 9:00pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - 9:14pm
Rusk County (Longview News-Journal) — HENDERSON — Rusk County commissioners approved a $300 a month increase Tuesday for the county trapper fee. County compensation for James B. Johnston II — whose official title is wildlife damage management technician — was increased from $2,400 to $2,700 monthly.
Johnston is an employee of the Texas Wildlife Service.
County Judge Joel Hale said the raise was mandated by the state but that Johnston has done a good job since he began working for the county about 18 months ago.
“He’s been handling a lot of feral hogs, but he’s also blasted some beaver dams and dealt with a few coyotes that were killing livestock,” Hale said.
While the county pays the state a monthly fee to have a trapper based in Rusk County, the state provides his vehicle, equipment and training.
Johnston is also licensed to kill buzzards, although he usually attempts to relocate them before destroying the birds, Hale said.
“Overall, we’ve been very pleased with his work,” Hale said. “A county trapper provides a definite service to our residents.”
Johnston said the majority of his work involves feral hogs, and the methods he usually uses to deal with them are lethal.
“There’s no real place to relocate them to,” Johnston said.
“They’re a problem throughout Texas, and moving them to another county would just turn our problem into somebody else’s.”
Beavers’ dams are generally only broken up when they are causing flooding to roadways or fields, Johnston said.
“I deal with very specific problems,” Johnston said. “I don’t just do general sweeps of the county to rid us of hogs, beavers, coyotes, buzzards or any other kinds of varmints. I respond to complaints from residents about these animals causing problems on their property or on public lands.”
When it comes to buzzards, Johnston said he’s usually able to convince most of the flock to relocate through various methods but generally has to kill a few birds who refuse to leave their roost.
While Johnston works primarily in Rusk County, he remains a state employee and does occasionally assist with animal problems in neighboring counties, Hale said.
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