I’m sure you’ve heard about the problem with feral hogs in Texas. The population has exploded, and with it comes an increase in the damage done by their rooting and feeding habits. Lands affected by feral hogs include parks, nature reserves, ranch land, golf courses, and even rural neighborhoods. So in effect, it really does hit close to home for most of us in one way or another. The monies spent trying to eradicate these pests have been staggering.

Since the hog overpopulation presented itself, there has been a nonstop effort to come up with viable solutions that are cost effective and humane. The main ways of dealing with feral hogs has been trapping and hunting. Many hunters are paid to kill the feral hogs along with keeping the meat to eat. Also, much of the meat has been sent overseas to other countries to feed people.

For more than a decade, agencies have been conducting research in order to find a better, more effective way to eradicate the overpopulation of feral hogs. Recently, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller approved the use of the drug warfarin to poison feral hogs. The data shows this to be a faster and more thorough method than hunting and trapping, which currently isn’t able to keep up with the rapid population growth of the feral hogs.

This sounds like a win-win solution, right? Not so fast. A petition, written by the Texas Hog Hunters Association, has been signed by over 15,500 people objecting to the use of warfarin in the fight to exterminate feral hogs. Many of the concerns are over the toxicity of the drug being passed on to scavengers that eat or come in contact with the poisoned meat, as well as humans who may unknowingly eat affected meat. They do not feel this is a safe option for the state to carry out. There are just too many unknowns.

I guess what it comes down to is this: Can we decide to trust the research, the agencies, and our government officials to protect us from the very program that promises to help us win over the expensive, out-of-control issue of feral hog overpopulation? The research shows that very low doses of warfarin were toxic to the hogs but rarely to the wildlife in habitats where the drug would be supplied. Due to its chemical makeup, the drug wouldn’t adversely affect water systems either.

The data also indicated that other animals or a person would have to consume huge, unrealistic quantities of tainted meat in order to be affected by the drug. So, on paper, it appears to be a fairly safe and more effective alternative to hunting and trapping. But the unknown, unproven effects of this poisoning program over time are waiting to be realized. If it’s implemented, I guess only time will tell if the end justifies the means. Maybe saving property and the costs incurred in damage control will outweigh any possible risks to other wildlife, habitats and people affected by this feral hog poisoning program.

Darla Horner Menking is an outdoor enthusiast and Herald correspondent. Contact her at darla.menking@gmail.com.

(1) comment

tomintexas

One only has to have an experience or two with the unholy relationships between politicians, government entities and corporations to be apprehensive about statements and promises from them. Years ago, use of antibiotics in animal feeds was "safe and proposed no future risk". Yeah, right. DDT was "safe and carried no hazards". Yeah, right. Dozens of drugs, including but not limited to Vioxx, Propulsid, etc., were "safe and effective" - authorized, defended and protected by the FDA - until too many people were killed by them. One always wonders where companies promoting their products through government entities/individuals have put their lobbying money. Does a blanket statement that warfarin - the pig killer and a blood thinner, is safe for humans address those folks already taking medications to thin their blood, including aspirin? This whole "experiment" does not pass the "smell test".

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