Toxicants for Controlling Feral Hogs

Toxicants for controlling feral hog populations may soon be a reality. Each year in the US, wild and ever-increasing hog populations are causing millions of dollars in damage on farms, ranches and even suburban settings. Neither hog hunting nor trapping has been able to control feral hog numbers. An approved toxicant has the best chance at being successful, in my opinion.

What land owners and managers need is exactly what a toxicant can provide, a solution that works more or less passively that is highly effective at eliminating large numbers of feral hogs. Toxicants do work. The biggest problem with toxicants is ensuring that they are only ingested by only unwanted, feral hogs. There is also problems with potential carryover into the human food chain should “toxic” hogs be shot, butchered and consumed. The latter is not a problem with sodium nitrite, but definitely an issue with warfarin.

Source: “Two toxicants that have previously been used in Australia to poison feral hogs are being considered for use in the U.S.

The United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is working with researchers to register and approve sodium nitrite. Sodium nitrite is used in hog poison in Australia and is used as a food preservative in the U.S. (ironically in bacon). It causes methemoglobinemia in hogs, resulting in rapid depletion of oxygen to the brain and vital organs. Death occurs within 1.5 hours in feral hogs.

Kaput® is a warfarin-based bait that was eventually banned in Australia. Warfarin is a blood thinner that hogs are very susceptible to, dying within a few days of receiving a lethal dose. Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) in collaboration with Scimetrics Ltd. Corporation worked to develop Kaput®. Kaput® has an Enviromental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved label and is currently being considered for approval in several states. Immediately following TDA approval of Kaput® for restricted use in the state of Texas, legal action followed citing concerns to human health. Kaput® says they will have a commercial product available in May-June 2017 if its use is legal in any states.

Toxicants will not be the silver bullet landowners are looking for, but it will be another tool in the war on hogs. The Kaput® label has very specific protocols for habituating hogs with a mandatory feeder, disposing of carcasses, grazing restrictions and reporting of non-target kills. It will be extremely important for applicators of toxic baits to adhere to all requirements in any label approved by the EPA as well as any special restrictions imposed by a state. Misuse of any approved toxicant can result in damage to natural resources and result in the loss of a new tool for hog control.”

In short, even using toxicants to control feral hogs is not a one-and-done deal, but based on the paragraphs above it appears baits formulated with warfarin have the potential for a number of issues both before and after baits have been ingested by wild pigs. At this point, it seems sodium nitrite may be the better option since the potential to harm us, humans, seems lower, but it seems more research is warranted.

It’s been said that there is no silver bullet for feral hog control, but I think an effective toxicant has the opportunity to be just that. Most hog gurus site that at least 70 percent of the hog population must be controlled annually to prevent an increase in hog numbers. My “back of a napkin” math makes me think that is possible, even if I don’t know exactly which toxicant is right for the job.

If you love Texas, you will LOVE this video!

Texas Investigates News Ways to Control Feral Pigs

Investigating New Ways to Control Feral Pigs
by Justin Foster, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD)
originally published in TPWD “The Cedar Post” November 2013, Volume 3, Issue 2

It is probably no surprise to you that Kerr Wildlife Management Area (WMA) staff is involved in ongoing investigations to develop new tools for feral pig control. Rather than spending too much time justifying these efforts, I will summarize by saying that Kerr WMA staff and our chain of command believe: 1) Feral pigs pose significant danger to human health through transmission of disease; 2) Feral pigs are a threat to our native flora and fauna; 3) Feral pigs are a threat to our livestock markets and economy; and 4) Controlling feral pigs is very costly.

Although I am speaking of North America here, the case is very similar across the globe. Because TPWD’s WMA system is the research and demonstration arm of the Wildlife Division, it only makes sense that we focus our efforts and resources on an issue that is so important to many of you.

Controlling Wild Hogs in Texas - Is Sodium Nitrite the Answer?

Our current goal is developing a tool(s) that reduce the cost of controlling pigs on your property. Our primary objective is to develop and register a toxic bait and delivery system with the United States Environmental Protection Agency that is feasible, user friendly, and environmentally safe. The golden goose egg here is to develop a product that can be a cost-effective way to reduce pig numbers without having negative impacts on the resources that all native Texans cherish.

Our current investigations are centered on sodium nitrite (not sodium nitrate). Sodium nitrite (NaNO2) is an inorganic compound that is commonly used in medicine, the food industry, and industrial chemistry. It affects our lives frequently as it is one of the most common food additives used for preserving meats. If you eat bacon, jerky, or cured meats, you are almost undoubtedly eating NaNO2. Don’t worry; the miniscule amount you consume could never have the acute effects upon you that intended doses can have on pigs. In fact, the bacon you consume will have more NaNO2 in it than the meat from a pig that is killed by sodium nitrite intoxication.

Sodium nitrite shows potential because: 1) its effect is rapid, lethal, and clinically humane in pigs; 2) it is readily available; 3) it is inexpensive; 4) there is an antidote (i.e. methylene blue); 5) user hazards are manageable; and 6) delivery can be environ-mentally safe. In a nutshell, sodium nitrite has the potential for safe and effective control of feral pigs.

The drawbacks to sodium nitrite for feral hog control are that it is highly unpalatable to pigs and it is also very unstable which means it can potentially react with bait ingredients. Such reactions not only reduce the potency of NaNO2, but may also breakdown to more noxious products causing pigs to reject it. This reactivity prevents any chance of creating an effective nitrite based bait in the barn at home. Whether rejection or potency, do it yourself chemistry is undoubtedly going to result in product that is not lethal to pigs. However, it is possible that a commercially produced bait could be available for the control of feral hogs in the not to distant future.