Texas Law Aims to Poison Feral Hogs, But Is It the Best Solution to This Growing Problem?
Feral hogs are a PROBLEM in Texas. They're an invasive species that are basically hyper-intelligent, huge and mean rats. They damage stream-sides, crops and irrigation lines. They eat the young of native wildlife. And, perhaps worst of all, they're responsible for deadly auto accidents on highways.
Since feral pigs breed with the frequency of cats, their numbers increase exponentially despite current hunting efforts. Their numbers must be culled, but what's the best solution?
Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller has proposed the use of Warfarin, a rat poison, to kill off a significant portion of these animals. The Texas Hog Hunter's Association is vehemently against this plan for several reasons. As per their petition:
Hogs poisoned with warfarin can take up to 9 days to die, and can travel 5 to 20 miles a day. The poison is slow acting and the hogs literally "bleed out" before dying. Thus, if one rancher uses the poison, it is inevitable that sick and dying hogs and dead hog carcasses will show up in public right of way, state and national parks, and other ranches or farms.
No Texas hunter wants to kill or eat a poisoned hog. Many Texas hunters (and trappers) kill feral hogs and sell the meat to feral-meat processors. Sid Miller's program has already deterred hunters from shooting feral hogs. Restaurants throughout Texas are serving feral hog meat to diners. Tourists from around the world are visiting Texas year round to go on hog hunts regularly. The program also has damaged feral-hog buyers and feral-hog processing plants. The financial losses are mounting every day.
There are no studies that address what impact warfarin will have on ground water, cattle, or farming. Hunting and trapping are the established, proven methods of feral-hog control. The net effect of Sid Miller's ill-advised program will be to reduce the control of feral hogs in Texas.
Texas Parks and Wildlife is against the use of poison as well. "While TPWD has supported and encouraged responsible feral hog control management practices, it has not yet evaluated the risks and impacts this toxicant may have on non-target species when used as a means to control feral hog populations," they said.
Dead and dying hogs laying in highways, being eaten by native and possibly endangered wildlife (or worse: humans) sounds like a bad plan to me. In my opinion, we simply need more aggressive incentives for hunters to take hogs. Poisoning the meat will only prevent hunting. For the cost of the poison, setting bait and clean-up of the dead hogs, can't we simply set bounties for hogs? Shooting the hog is safer for all wildlife, people and more humane - because even if a hog is a pest, it can still feel pain and suffer. Plus, the tourism will generate funds for affected areas.
If you agree, you can sign the petition. If you'd like to do your part to fix the problem the old-fashioned way (hunting), here's a list of FAQs that links to places to hunt (Lake Alan Henry is one of them).
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