Wild boar, razorback, feral hog, wild pig — these are just some of the names we attribute to one of the most destructive and formidable invasive species in the country. Feral swine adapt to just about any habitat, have few natural enemies, and reproduce at high rates.
Since the country can’t barbecue its way out of the $1.5 billion in damages and hog-control costs each year, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has approved a new measure to control the 6 million, and counting, feral hogs.
Beginning in 2018, the APHIS will being field-testing poison baits, made from a preservative that’s used to cure bacon and sausage, to help control the hog population.
“Wildlife Services takes the selection and use of toxic baits for use in wildlife damage management very seriously. The final environmental assessment, FONSI and EUP are the result of years of collaborative research by WS and multiple private, state, federal and international partners,” said Wildlife Services Deputy Administrator Bill Clay. “With these in place, we can now begin field trials to help determine the effectiveness of the sodium nitrite toxic bait for removing feral swine sounders in natural settings, as well as any potential impacts to non-target wildlife.”
The new program will first be tested in Texas in early 2018 and then in central Alabama midsummer.
“Although trapping, aerial operations, and recreational hunting of feral swine have effectively reduced damage in some areas, studies show that at least 70 percent of feral swine must be removed each year in order to prevent population growth,” added Clay. “Should the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approve the toxic bait for use with feral swine, it could become another tool in the toolbox for integrated feral swine damage management.”