(KWTX) Field tests will start in early 2018 in Texas on feral hog poison baits made from sodium nitrite, a meat preservative that’s used to cure bacon and sausage.
When eaten in high doses over a short period of time, sodium nitrite is toxic to feral hogs, which get faint, lose consciousness and quickly die, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says.
“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,” Deputy Wildlife Services Administrator Bill Clay says.
“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,” he said.
Feral swine are susceptible to sodium nitrite because they have low levels of the enzyme that reverses the effects of nitrite toxicosis, scientists say.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency granted the USDA an experimental use permit in November, clearing the way for field trials in Texas, and later in 2018, Alabama.
The permit allows researchers to work with landowners to identify and target three to nine grounds of feral swine on which to test the baits.
More than 6 million feral hogs across 35 states cause damage to crops alone that’s estimated at $190 million a year, the USDA says.