AUSTIN, Texas -

(AP) - Counties are posting and increasing bounties on feral hogs as the non-native, invasive species press their search for food closer to urban areas.
The tusked creatures grub through fields, gardens, even lawns, carrying disease and parasites with them.
The Austin American-Statesman ( reports that Hays and Caldwell counties in Central Texas are offering a $5 bounty for each hog bagged by hunters, up $2 from last year. Bastrop County is offering a $5 bounty for the first time.
Texas has the nation's largest feral hog population with nearly 2.6 million pigs this past June. Experts blame the animals for about $500 million in statewide damage, including $52 million a year to agriculture.
Professional hog hunter R.A. "Bubba" Ortiz says drought pushed the hogs closer to urban areas for food.