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David Rainer: Agencies meet to work on feral swine solutions


If you've ever explored Alabama's wilderness or climbed aboard a tractor to farm, you know the devastating impact feral hogs can have on the landscape.

Due to the incredible reproductive ability of these feral pigs, population control is difficult at best, and many researchers believe that complete eradication of this invasive species is not a viable option.

Some people are looking to methods other than hunting and trapping to control the hog population, and Texas recently announced the use of a warfarin-based toxic substance called Caputo against the huge state's burgeoning hog population. Approved for use. This action has spurred a new debate on research and development surrounding different types of feral pig poisons.

Feral hogs are damaging agricultural operations and wildlife habitat throughout the state. (Jay Gunn/ADCNR Photo)

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR), Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industry (ADAI), Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Wildlife Services, and the Soil and Water Service Conservation Commission recently met. and reached a consensus that no toxic substances, including Caputo, would be approved in Alabama at this time. These organizations will keep abreast of the latest research and actual toxic substance use and will continue to revisit this issue on a regular basis.

“Because feral hogs are such a big problem, we are calling for a meeting of top agency leaders from departments working on this area to make sure we all agree on what is best for Alabama going forward. “We thought it was best to open,” he said. Conservation Commissioner Chris Blankenship. “We had an open and frank discussion on this issue and all agreed that based on the information we currently have, Caputo is not the best poison for controlling feral hogs in Alabama.” (Rick ) Pate and his staff, Director (Chuck) Sykes, and others who are knowledgeable about this issue. I would like to thank Director Pate and his staff, Director (Chuck) Sykes, and others who are knowledgeable about this issue. We all came together to discuss this matter and hear from all perspectives. I think that was very beneficial.”

Sykes, ADCNR's Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Director, said he is not sold on the idea that Kaputo is the best solution to a difficult problem at this time.

“Based on the data we have right now, I don't support it,” Sykes said of using Caputo. “There are a lot of questions about the use of toxic substances. We have been working with the Department of Agriculture on the use of sodium nitrite for over five years.”

Warfarin-based poisons use blood-thinning effects to drive out pigs. However, pigs may need to consume kaput food multiple times over an extended period of time before the animal is killed. Sodium nitrite affects the pig's ability to transport oxygen within its body and has an immediate effect. Director Sykes said sodium nitrite baits are in the process of being approved and he expects them to be approved within the next few years.

“Sodium nitrite has proven to be a very lethal, very effective, and very humane method of expelling pigs during trial use in Alabama, and we believe that it is “We know that it works,” Director Sykes said. “And we don't keep killing people at the end of the food chain. The pigs just eat the product and get sleepy, lie down and don't wake up. This product depletes the oxygen in the bloodstream.”

Director Sykes said sodium nitrite is administered through peanut butter-based baits and is not available to the general public.

“A toxic substance is not going to be something that you can put on the shelf at your local co-op and use by anyone,” he says. “This will be available to trained and licensed applicators, federal agencies, and state agencies.”

ADAI Director Pate said toxic substances like Caputo and sodium nitrite require regulatory approval before they can be legalized for use.

ADAI's current position on warfarin-based toxic substances is as follows:

  • Given the product's toxicity and known issues that could potentially arise from its use, there remains insufficient data to justify registration in Alabama.
  • There are significant differences in the environmental landscape and conditions between Alabama and Texas, where the product is registered for use.
  • Labels and the applicator's ability to follow label instructions are very important.
  • It appears that a certain level of training and education (product specific) must be undertaken, especially if the product is to be used by individual applicators.
  • Pigs need to be fed multiple times to achieve the desired results.
  • Sublethal doses and the possibility of resistance remain concerns.

“I don't want to trivialize the (swine) problem because we know it's huge,” Secretary Pate said. “The problem is real. We want to get rid of as many pigs as possible, but we want to do it the right way. We don't want to. Smart people are working on solutions. We're trying to do as much as we can, as quickly as possible.”

Currently, the best way to reduce feral pig populations is to trap entire sounders (family groups). (Jay Gunn/ADCNR Photo)

Leif Stevens of the USDA Wildlife Services office in Auburn said the agency is working diligently to solve the feral hog problem.

“The USDA Wildlife Service is committed to searching for a suitable feral swine poison that is effective, humane, cost-effective, shelf-stable, efficient in applicator use, and poses low risk to non-target species. We continue to work on it,” Stevens said. “These are important items that we want to look at when it comes to the use of toxic substances.

“We are aware that the warfarin-based toxic substance Caputo was recently registered in Texas. Currently, data on the use of this product supports operational needs as a fast-acting control method coupled with low operating costs.” We haven't. Those boxes I mentioned earlier are not checked at this time.”

Stevens said the Wildlife Conservation Service has several employees tasked with managing feral hogs and the damage they cause throughout Alabama.

“This is something we deal with on a daily basis,” he said. “It seems like it's in our faces every day, all day. It's important to maintain a variety of management practices to combat these invasive species. There's no single solution to the feral pig problem. There is no silver bullet per se; utilizing multiple control techniques in a management plan is the best way to control feral swine.”

Stevens said the use of sodium nitrite-containing baits is promising but needs further refinement before it can be approved.

“Sodium nitrite baits offer great hope,” he says. “Currently, we are trying to reformulate poisons to minimize the impact on non-target species. When you put a toxic substance on a landscape, you don't want it to sit there for long periods of time. It's not cost-effective. We need something that is expensive, very efficient when applied, and also humane.”

According to the USDA, feral hogs cause more than $1.5 billion in damage to property, crops, timber, livestock, native wildlife, ecosystems, and cultural and historic resources across the country each year. Feral hogs cost Alabama an estimated $50 million annually.

“We currently have pigs in all 67 counties,” Director Sykes said. “Of course, some are much worse than others. Most people who have a pig problem are doing everything they can to keep the pig population down. Control the numbers. , should not grow exponentially.

“What the department has done is make the seasons and bag limits very liberal so that you can hunt hogs during the day and all year round. There are no daily bag limits or seasonal bag limits. February 11 From October 1st to October 1st, you can purchase a nighttime feral hog and coyote license and hunt them 24 hours a day, seven days a week.Throw in a bait fishing license and you can hunt them with bait. It can be done.”

Director Sykes said that while it provides a great opportunity for hunters in Alabama, shooting feral hogs is not currently the best way to control the herd. The best way to reduce the number of pigs is to trap entire sounders (family groups).

“You can trap hogs 365 days a year with no seasonal or daily bag limits,” he said. “Removal of the entire Sounder is currently the best tool at our disposal. We employ this on many federal lands.”

The Forever Wild Land Trust Board of Directors recently voted to spend up to $1 million on feral hog removal efforts on Forever Wild property. The Forever Wild program is managed by ADCNR's Division of National Lands.

Director Sykes also said that WFF will provide assistance with crop raiding permits as needed.

“We provide crop depredation permits to producers whose farming process is affected by hogs, even during deer season,” he said. “The producers have informed the district office that there is a problem. We will send a biologist to investigate. Once the damage is confirmed, a permit will be issued to assist the producers.

“As we consider depredation permits, we want everyone to understand that we need to work to avoid putting undue pressure on some of our own resources. If so, we have permission to do so. We also want to give everyone, including recreational shooters, the opportunity to catch hogs, which is why we have open season and load limits. We teach trapping classes to teach proper techniques to landowners and managers. We are doing everything we can to address the feral pig problem.”

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