Sid Miller to approve new technique for killing feral hogs: poison


Highlights

Miller says he supports a rule change to allow distribution of poisoned feral hog bait food.

Kaput Feral Hog Lure is meant to target only feral hogs.

Some have misgivings, but Miller says the product is safe.

The man who gained fame for successfully allowing hunters to shoot hogs from helicopters is now championing another strategy to hasten what he calls “the feral hog apocalypse”: poison.

Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller will announce Tuesday that he is approving a pesticide, “Kaput Feral Hog Lure,” for statewide use. He says the product, poisoned bait food, is the first specifically designed to control the feral hog population, now estimated at more than 2.5 million in Texas.

Feral hogs cause at least $50 million in damage annually to Texas agriculture, destroying crops and livestock tanks, as well as causing untold damage in suburban areas, where they dig up homeowners’ yards and dine on cable and internet lines.

“They’re so prolific, you can’t hardly keep them in check,” Miller told the American-Statesman. Sows have been known to produce two litters a year, typically with four to six offspring in each litter. “This is going to be the hog apocalypse, if you like: If you want them gone, this will get them gone.”

As a state senator, Miller authored legislation that allowed for the aerial killing of hogs. Now, on average, 27,500 hogs are killed that way annually.

Feral hogs were introduced to North America by Spanish settlers who set domestic pigs free into the woods so that they could breed freely. Overall, as many as 750,000 are harvested annually, but the problem is a growing one.

Enter Kaput.

The product is basically bait food laced with warfarin, used as a blood thinner for humans but apparently lethal in hogs.

TEXAS POLITICS DELIVERED EVERY DAY: Sign up for our Texas Politics email

Miller said licensees will be able to set out nontoxic bait food for the hogs in feeders that require the strength of an adult hog to access. Once the hogs grow accustomed to the food, licensees can replace the nontoxic bait with the toxic variety.

Miller, who said he is changing state agricultural rules to allow the product’s use, said Kaput presents a “minimal risk to other animals” because it requires much higher dosages to affect other wildlife populations or livestock.

He said officials at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service support the rule change and the use of warfarin for feral hog population control, but an official at Texas A&M who oversees feral hog operations declined to comment Monday.

The product was developed by Colorado-based Genesis Laboratories and will be sold by its sister company, Scimetrics.

“Hogs are particularly sensitive to warfarin,” Genesis President Richard Poché said. 

Poché said the hog bait contains only one-fifth of the concentration found in conventional rat and mouse baits. He said that after 25 years of working with warfarin, numerous studies have found only minimal effects on wildlife, such as ferrets, magpies, alligators and birds of various species, when used at the low concentration in the bait.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department spokesman Steve Lightfoot said the agency had been consulted.

“These invasive animals destroy native habitats, indirectly impacting our state’s wildlife resources that rely on these habitats, and the department strongly supports and encourages feral hog control management practices,” he said.

“As for nontarget species, we can’t speculate on the impacts to wildlife species should exposure or consumption take place because dose, dose frequency, body mass and species sensitivity will likely be highly variable. Studies have shown that individual animals, such as rodents and raptors, can be affected through primary and secondary consumption of warfarin.”

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK: Our Lone Star Politics page brings Capitol news to your Facebook feed

Miller said hunters will be able to tell if the feral hog has consumed Kaput because the fat will be a bright blue.

“It’s a dead giveaway,” said Miller, who said the product has won federal approval.

The Texas Department of Agriculture got $900,000 from the Legislature in the last biennium to research feral hog control. So confident is he in Kaput, he said, that he will tell appropriators not to give his agency that money again.

“I am excited to see a new tool to address the feral hog populations,” said Nick Dornak, who oversees the Caldwell County Feral Hog Task Force, which has received $80,000 in state funding over the past four years and has removed more than 10,000 hogs during that period. “My concern would be that there’s any thought of this being a magic bullet for feral hog control in the state. We need trapping, we need aerial control, and not all landowners are willing to put poison on their property.”

Officials in Louisiana, where the product is also under consideration, have sounded less bullish than Miller.

A Louisiana state wildlife veterinarian told the New Orleans Times-Picayune that the hogs might drop crumbs of the bait food on the ground, where other wildlife can get to it. He also raised concerned that black bears — which also live in Texas — could get to the food.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Texas News & Politics

UPDATE: Parmer Lane in Northeast Austin reopened after crash cleared
UPDATE: Parmer Lane in Northeast Austin reopened after crash cleared

6:50 p.m. update: Parmer Lane has been cleared after rescue crews extricated a person trapped in a two-car collision, medics said. Parmer Lane had been shut down near the Harris Ridge Boulevard intersection for approximately 30 minutes while crews worked to free the crash victim. No one was taken to the hospital. Earlier: One person is entrapped in...
After Saturday’s ‘rain bomb,’ more showers might be in sight this week
After Saturday’s ‘rain bomb,’ more showers might be in sight this week

The rainwater that engorged the San Gabriel River above 24 feet Saturday left as quickly as it came. By the afternoon, the floodwaters that displaced several families from an RV park and trapped dozens of people at a wedding venue near Liberty Hill had receded. “It really and truly is a wave of water that goes through” the river, said Jarred...
LEANDER: Police searching for driver involved in fatal hit-and-run
LEANDER: Police searching for driver involved in fatal hit-and-run

Leander police are looking for the driver of a pickup truck that they say was involved in a fatal hit-and-run late Saturday. Police said they received a call about a crash involving a motorcycle and pickup truck at the intersection of Palmera Ridge Boulevard and Ronald W. Reagan Boulevard in Leander just before midnight Saturday. According to a witness...
3D-printed gun maker Cody Wilson back in the U.S. after Taiwan arrest
3D-printed gun maker Cody Wilson back in the U.S. after Taiwan arrest

Cody Wilson, the Austin man who created designs for an untraceable 3D-printed gun and has fought the federal government in court for years to publish the instructions online, was brought back to the U.S. and was expected to return to Austin on Sunday evening after being arrested in Taiwan on sexual assault charges. Wilson, 30, was booked into the Harris...
Tiger Woods: Some fun facts to know
Tiger Woods: Some fun facts to know

Tiger Woods ended a five-year victory drought when he won the Tour Championship on Sunday. >> Read more trending news  By finishing two shots ahead of Billy Horschel with a 1-over-par 71 and an 11-under-par 269 for the tournament, Woods earned his 80th career win on the PGA Tour, second only behind Sam Snead’s 82. It was Woods&rsquo...
More Stories