Rather than take you with me on a recent hunt or fishing trip, let’s devote this space to a much more important topic this week: Using the drug Warfarin which is an anticoagulant as a measure of controlling wild hogs. I and other members of the outdoor press recently received the press release below from The Texas Agriculture Commission, headed by Sid Miller. Please read the release and we will discuss it later in this column.
AUSTIN – Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller will be announcing approval of a major new weapon in the ongoing war against feral hogs in Texas. Commissioner Miller has approved a rule change in the Texas Administrative Code (TAC) that classifies a new warfarin-based product as a state-limited-use pesticide for control of feral hogs. State-limited-use pesticides may only be bought and used by a licensed applicator or someone under the direct supervision of a licensed applicator. The pesticide, “Kaput Feral Hog Lure,” is the first toxicant to be listed specifically for use in controlling the feral hog population.
“Wild hogs have caused extensive damage to Texas lands and loss of income for many, many years,” Commissioner Miller said. “I am pleased to announce that the ‘feral hog apocalypse' may be within Texans’ reach with the introduction of Kaput’s hog lure.
Introducing warfarin as the first pesticide available to control the feral hog population is significant because it gives agriculture producers and landowners in Texas a new weapon in the fight against feral hogs with minimal risk to other animals. According to experts familiar with the issue, Warfarin is a logical choice for hog toxicant, because it is effective in swine but requires much higher dosage levels to potentially affect other wildlife populations or livestock. The Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service is supportive of the rule change and the use of warfarin for feral hog population control.
Commissioner Miller has informed the legislature that $900,000 in TDA’s budget previously earmarked for feral hog control research will no longer be necessary as a result of this rule change and has asked that the appropriation be removed from the current TDA budget pending before the Legislature.
The manufacturer of the product, Scimetrics Ltd. Corp., has been manufacturing rodent management products for 15 years. Extensive testing of warfarin has been conducted in Texas since 2008. The approval of warfarin for feral hog control is the culmination of several years of research in partnership with Scimetrics and TDA. A representative from Scimetrics will also be on hand to take questions regarding the product.
Not, let’s discuss the implications:
I was shocked to learn of this new regulation being adopted. Because wild hogs are not considered a game animal in Texas, their control is not under the auspices of Texas Parks and Wildlife. Thus, I assume the meeting across the state where citizen input is heard were not conducted. It appears the Department of Agriculture in conjunction with the ONE company that is allowed to make this hog poison are the primary instigators of this new regulation.
I am sure that if you have read this column for long (I’ve been writing it for about 27 years now), you have come to understand that I am not some bleeding heart animal rights activities that wishes no hogs be killed. Quite the contrary, I am a lifelong hunter and I personally hunt and occasionally trap wild hogs on a year around basis. I love hunting hogs and I love transforming that wild pork into tasty meals in the form of sausage, ham and pulled pork. I have long stated that the meat from wild hogs is a valuable commodity and that trapping them is by far the most effective and environmentally sound method of controlling their numbers. Granted we hunters do kill a lot of hogs but not nearly enough to keep their numbers in check.
I was shocked to learn that that this drug, used for killing rats and also as the basis of a medicine for high blood pressure in humans, is now legal to use to kill hogs.
Many, many questions arose when I first mulled over this press release. I called one of my friends who is a medical doctor and also a cardiologists and he explained that he thought high dosages would be necessary to kill hogs and felt that pigs would probably be the first to be killed rather than larger hogs. I still have to wonder the overall impact that this drug will have on the ecosystem in general and other wildlife in particular.
Annually, $900,000 has been allocated to the study of controlling wild hogs. My point is this: Why not let trappers and hunters control the hogs. Give this money to the counties where the hog problem is the greatest and pay a bounty of, say $5 for each wild hog tail brought in. It’s a common practice for farmers and some ranchers, especially those producing hay, to offer a bounty of their own for hogs removed. Trappers, using modern day technology such as traps that are triggered by cell phone apps are very effective in catching large numbers of hogs. The trappers then sell the hogs at prices ranging from fifty cents to seventy five cents per pound to licensed wild hog buyers. This practice is currently ongoing and a network of wild hog buyers is currently in place. The meat from the wild hogs ultimately winds up on restaurant menus, billed as “wild boar”. Everyone wins using this plan and the ecosystem is not jeopardized by the widespread use of a drug that could possibly cause harm to our ecosystem.
As much as the media likes us to think everyone hates wild hogs, I have several good friends that operate hunting ranches where hunting wild hogs is a huge draw for out of state hunters. From the months of January through spring and into summer, thousands of hunters from the upper Midwest and back east flock to Texas to hunt hogs. They spend their dollars on hunting fees, motels, gasoline, etc. I have never seen these factors mentioned in the press when the discussion of wild hogs comes up.
I have a couple of friends that hire out to farmers to keep wild hogs shot off their emerging corn fields and watermelon fields after the melons ripen.
Granted, periodic trapping programs simply do not work. Trapping needs to be a year around endeavor to be a worthwhile tool in reducing hog numbers.
It will be interesting to see how this new plan will work and what negative impact it will have. I am convinced that an aggressive hog trapping plan, keying on hotspots and hunting has the potential to keep their numbers in check.
Luke’s book, “Kill to Grill, the Ultimate guide to hunting and cooking wild hogs” is now available through Amazon or www.catfishradio.com
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