Can LSU Come Up With Humane Killer for Louisiana Feral Hogs?
Just how bad is Louisiana's feral hog problem? According to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, feral hogs are found in all 64 parishes in Louisiana, and Louisiana’s feral hog population is currently estimated at 700,000.
In fact, in an article from laforestry.com, we learn that Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Mike Strain, has "said more than 350,000 feral hogs are killed each year, “and the population is still exploding.” The commissioner estimates that each year roughly $50 million of damage is caused by the most prolific large mammal in North America."
Of course, Louisiana isn't alone in these feral hog woes, as smithsonianmag.com writes that,
Wild hogs are among the most destructive invasive species in the United States today. Two million to six million of the animals are wreaking havoc in at least 39 states and four Canadian provinces; half are in Texas, where they do some $400 million in damages annually.
Considering these overwhelming numbers, and the damage they cause, wildlife experts know that intervention is mandatory. And obviously, even with the efforts of Louisiana's hunters, we're still going the wrong direction.
With the task at hand to be the humane control of this destructive invasive species and at the same time, have no ill effect on other wildlife, Dr. Glen T. Gentry of the LSU AgCenter has enlisted the help of the Department of Chemistry at LSU.
The Chemistry Department's aid has come in the form of sodium nitrate, which according to Gentry is "relatively safe for humans." Gentry continued, "When a mammal consumes sodium nitrite, it induces methemoglobinemia. So, your hemoglobin changes form and it cannot carry oxygen.”
According to Gentry, humans have an enzyme that reduces its reaction to sodium nitrite in their bodies. He added that, “Pigs have that enzyme, but they don’t have as much of that enzyme and they can’t produce it very fast.” So Gentry is convinced that sodium nitrite could be the ticket to the demise of these hogs, so they are working now on a way to make the drug attractive to hogs, but not cause peripheral damage to other wildlife in either the consumption of the sodium nitrite or through the consumption of the hog carcasses. They believe they've found this in a bait about the size of a golf ball that has demonstrated the capacity to kill a 98 pound hog in less than two hours.
However, even with the potential of this new lethal bait, Gentry says that feral swine are so prolific, developing this bait that will kill hogs won't eliminate the problem.
In the article from laforestry.com he's quoted as saying,
“There’s no way that can happen,” he said, but it can be another tool to control population, which includes hunting and aerial gunning, for example. “You’ve got to kill 75 percent of the population that’s there now just to hold numbers static.”
To read the entire article from laforestry.com, just go HERE.