In an ongoing battle against a growing wild hog population, Texas State Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller has taken the gloves off.
Miller calls for a “feral hog apocalypse” and has hunters up in arms across the state, according to an article in The San Antonio Express News.
What is the apocalypse? A plan to poison the feral hogs with a pesticide whose main ingredient is warfarin, commonly found in rat poison.
“Wild hogs have caused extensive damage to Texas lands and loss of income for many, many years,” Miller said. “I am pleased to announce that the ‘feral hog apocalypse’ may be within Texans’ reach.”
The plan is to have special feeders with 16-pound lids luring the hogs. The heavy lids would prevent other wildlife, such as deer, from opening the feeders and becoming poisoned.
The plan is pitting organizations traditionally on the same side of an issue against each other.
“We have long encouraged university researchers and the pharmaceutical industry to develop a safe and effective product to control feral swine,” said Jeremy Fuchs, spokesman for the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association in the San Antonio Express News article. “We believe that if used properly and in accordance with all regulations, the use of warfarin could help control the feral hog population without sacrificing safety.”
On the other side of the debate, the Texas Hog Hunters Association and Hogs for a Cause predict potentially lethal results beyond just the intended target. Texas Hog Hunters’ Scott Dover expressed concern over contaminating the food chain as predators eat the hog carcasses.
Hogs for a Cause hunt or trap wild hogs and donate the meat to food banks and orphanages in Texas. David Haehn, founder of the group, has a long history of working to eradicate the hogs. He believes it will take some time and financial resources to address the problem adequately, and poisoning the animals is not the answer.
“Warfarin has been tried as a hog control method in Australia, but without much success. I don’t see widespread use of it,” Haehn said. “The larger animals cannot consume enough to kill them. The pigs aren’t going to die at the feeder; they’re going to be miles [away from] the feeder when they die. What is the persistency of the chemical in the hogs? And if you spend any time trapping the animals, you know that they don’t come to bait every night. It’s a long-term process. What I’ve found out is that for eliminating hogs, it’s going to take a lot of hard work. It’s going to take a lot of hard work and it’s going to take a lot of money.”
It is estimated that there are about 2.6 million wild hogs in Texas, causing $52 million in damage to crops and ranchland.