PolitiFact: No published study of new feral hog killer, yet


A Texas meat processor who questions a government-approved bait that kills feral hogs charges there’s no public research on the product.

Will Herring, owner of the Hubbard-based Wild Boar Meat Company, which makes hog meat into pet food, has said he fears the product’s active ingredient — warfarin, long known as a rat poison and prescribed to humans as a blood thinner — will damage his business.

Also, Herring said, “There’s not one public study, and by public study I mean a study available to the public, that has looked at using the product Kaput to poison feral hogs.”

Herring persuaded a state district judge to issue a temporary order putting a hold on state rules approving Kaput’s use by state-licensed pesticide applicators. State Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, has filed a bill barring the state from registering any lethal pesticide, including warfarin, for feral hog control unless a state agency or university performs and publishes a scientific study weighing the pesticide’s environmental and economic effects.

Both moves happened after Sid Miller, the state agriculture commissioner, announced the Texas Department of Agriculture would issue rules limiting Kaput’s sale and use to licensed individuals.

We decided to put Herring’s statement to the Texas Truth-O-Meter.

When we inquired, the state Agriculture Department emailed us a spreadsheet indicating that Colorado-based Scimetrics, the company poised to vend Kaput, fielded $136,854 in research grants from the Agriculture Department from 2013 into 2017. All told in 2016-17, the agency awarded $802,500 to fight feral hogs; that counts funds awarded to counties, universities and other agencies.

We asked Herring how he reached his conclusion about no public studies. He told us that he didn’t find specific studies of the product in online searches nor, he said, did Genesis Laboratories, the Colorado-based company that developed the product, provide a study at his firm’s inquiry.

We also reached Richard Poché, Genesis Labs’ president, who conceded that no Kaput study has been formally published.

He said, though, the company completed a study in Texas in 2015 submitted under the title “Field efficacy of a warfarin bait used to control feral hog populations” for consideration by the Wildlife Society Bulletin, which describes itself as a journal for wildlife practitioners that effectively integrates cutting-edge science with management and conservation.

The bulletin’s editor, Kansas State University’s David Haukos, confirmed that the study was submitted and is being reviewed for possible publication.

Poché said the 2015 study was followed by another in 2016 with a third study under way in 2017, each one based on feeding the Kaput product to feral hogs. Both of the first two studies, he said, decimated exposed hog populations in North Texas study areas; he noted that the bait uses only one-fifth of the warfarin found in conventional rat and mouse baits.

We asked for a copy of the 2015 study. Poché said that it remains “confidential business information,” and that releasing it before publication would leave his company with no control of where it ends up.

Poché otherwise provided two of his own March 2017 PowerPoint presentations on Kaput.

“Bait was applied in modified commercial feeders with heavy lids,” one presentation says at one point. “Baiting initiated on June 1 and terminated June 30, 2015. After the 30-day exposure period efficacy on the 5-km treatment plot baited with 0.005% warfarin was 100%, 98.6%, and 97.8% using radio-tracking, trail camera images, and bait consumption. Efficacy on the 0.01% warfarin bait plot was not as effective. Ninety-seven non-target searches were conducted during the treatment and post-treatment phases to examine for mortality, for which none were found,” an indication other animals weren’t killed by the bait.”

The text closes: “The low warfarin concentrate bait proved effective in eliminating wild hogs while posing minimal exposure to non-target wildlife.”

Poché, asked if independent research makes sense before Kaput goes commercial, emailed: “Not necessary. We do research under what is called Good Laboratory Practices, which is required by the EPA. No one can match the quality and integrity of the work.” According to an EPA web page, the agency conducts audits to ensure companies developing pesticide products comply with those practices.

At the state Agriculture Department, spokeswoman Jennifer Dorsett gave us a document listing a dozen reports on poisoning feral hogs, issued from 1987 through 2002, including seven titles specifying “warfarin.” Dorsett said the agency’s toxicologist, Michael Hare, used the reports as references in evaluating Kaput as a state limited-use pesticide.

Our ruling:

Herring said there’s no public study of Kaput, the product that might soon be available in Texas to attack feral hogs.

There’s no public study of that EPA-registered product, we confirmed. But a 2015 study submitted to a science journal would become public if it’s accepted for publication. Also, the effects on feral hogs of warfarin, Kaput’s active ingredient, has been explored in other published studies.

We rate this statement Mostly True.



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