West Texas has eliminated boll weevils. “The only way to get them back is to bring them in.”

Transporting baled cotton or gin trash from one area to another could do just that, he says. He cites one case in which someone moved gin trash from the Rio Grande Valley into the High Plains for livestock feed. “That’s actually illegal without a permit from the Texas Department of Agriculture,” he says. Penalties could be forthcoming.

“Be careful,” he cautions. “Go through the proper channels and make certain bales or gin trash come from weevil-free areas.”

Moving custom harvest equipment from one area to another also is reason for concern. “The Foundation will assume the role of inspecting equipment,” Smith says. “(Folks moving equipment) can get a permit through us or TDA.”

He says Mexico remains a serious challenge to eliminating the boll weevil from the Rio Grande Valley. Several cartels across the border prevent the kind of cooperation necessary to run a boll weevil eradication program. He says officials cannot even get into some areas because of violence.

“We have a lot of problems with Mexican eradication efforts,” he says. “But we’ve formed an international group with scientists from both sides of the river.”

Smith says the Foundation will continue to run trap lines all across the state to monitor weevils, even after all zones are deemed eradicated.