Special to the Journal
Today, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller announced a rule change in the Texas Administrative Code (TAC) that classifies a warfarin-based hog lure as a state-limited-use pesticide. The pesticide, “Kaput Feral Hog Lure,” is the first toxicant to be listed specifically for use in controlling the feral hog population and represents a new weapon in the long-standing war on the destructive feral hog population.
“This solution is long overdue. Wild hogs have caused extensive damage to Texas lands and loss of income for many, many years,” Commissioner Miller said. “With the introduction of this first hog lure, the ‘Hog Apocalypse’ may finally be on the horizon.”
Warfarin, an anticoagulant, was used for many years as a feral swine toxicant in Australia. There is a demonstrated need for additional feral hog population control methods in Texas, and the regulatory status under the rule change will ensure safe handling and application of this product. The rule change is supported by the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service.
“By making this a limited use pesticide, we are taking every step possible to ensure this toxicant is used properly and efficiently,” Commissioner Miller said. “Years of work and study have gone into addressing the concerns of hunters and others about this product.”
The manufacturer of the product, Scimetrics Ltd. Corp., has been manufacturing rodent management products for 15 years. Extensive testing of warfarin has been conducted in Texas since 2008. The approval of warfarin for feral hog control is the culmination of over ten years of research between Scimetrics and TDA.
This year, the EPA determined the product to be available for general use because of its low toxicity. However, to ensure the proper precautions are taken, the Texas Department of Agriculture has imposed stricter regulations on the product by labeling it for limited use only. State-limited-use pesticides may only be bought and used by a licensed applicator or someone under the direct supervision of a licensed applicator.
It is estimated that there are currently over 2 million feral hogs in Texas. Feral hogs can be found in approximately 230 of our 254 counties and cause an estimated $52 million of damage to Texas agricultural enterprises each year, according to the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service. The hogs’ rooting and foraging behavior tear up crops and pastures. Seed, labor and crop growth time are just some of the agricultural damage costs associated with feral hog destruction. Hogs have also been known to knock down fences and damage farm equipment and game feeders.
Feral hogs also contribute to loss of wetland habitation, water source contamination and soil erosion due to their extensive wallowing and rooting behavior around water sources. This invasive species will prey on livestock like newborn calves, lambs or goats and have also been known to kill fawns and eat ground-nesting bird eggs and hatchlings such as quail and turkey. Wild hogs will also eat small reptiles, including the endangered Texas horned lizard and, on the Texas coastline, the eggs and hatchlings of endangered sea turtles.
Feral hogs are a continual nuisance for many landowners in both rural and urban settings. Wild pigs have been known to uproot entire city parks and landscape plantings overnight and have been spotted even in densely populated urban areas. Feral hogs crossing high-speed highways cause extensive vehicle damage and life-threatening situations in the event of a vehicle wreck as a result of swerving to avoid or actually hitting the hogs.
Wild pigs also carry viruses, parasites and bacteria harmful to humans including swine brucellosis and trichinosis. They are known to carry 30 different diseases and 37 parasites. The more feral hog populations increase and expand, the greater the chances are that they may transmit diseases to other wildlife, livestock, and humans.
Commissioner Miller has informed the legislature that $900,000 in TDA’s budget previously earmarked for feral hog control research will no longer be necessary as a result of this rule change and has asked that the appropriation be removed from the current TDA budget pending before the Legislature.