But while Miller says the product is safe and unlikely to be accidentally ingested by people — it turns the fat of the animal that consumes it blue — those who hunt hogs for food and sport think the commissioner hasn’t thought the move through.
“The stand that we take is we do not believe adding a poison into the environment is the correct answer to this,” said Scott Dover of the Texas Hog Hunters Association, a statewide group that by Tuesday night, just hours after Miller’s announcement, had close to 2,500 signatures of people opposing the pesticide.
The active ingredient is warfarin, which is also used to kill rats. It inhibits blood clotting. In much smaller doses, it is also prescribed for humans as a blood thinner. This has caused quite a stir. Environmentalists fear the long-term effects, especially as scavenger animals such as coyotes and vultures feed on the carcasses of dead hogs. They say this could harm the state's ecosystem.
Hunters are also worried that hogs which have consumed the poison but not yet died could be harvested and their meat prove dangerous to humans.
Feral hogs are a huge concern. And we understand the desire for more effective control. But aside from the concerns of tainted meat, there is also the fact that rats in time develop a resistance to warfarin. That makes them even harder to kill. We think that's a valid concern for hogs, too. This poison might be a benefit in the relatively short run, but make for bigger problems over time.
I was shocked to learn that this drug, used for killing rats and also as the basis of a medicine for high blood pressure in humans, is now legal to use to kill hogs.
Many, many questions arose when I first mulled over this press release. I called one of my friends who is a medical doctor and also a cardiologist, and he explained that he thought high dosages would be necessary to kill hogs and felt that pigs would probably be the first to be killed rather than larger hogs. I still have to wonder the overall impact that this drug will have on the ecosystem in general and other wildlife in particular.
Annually, $900,000 has been allocated to the study of controlling wild hogs. My point is this: Why not let trappers and hunters control the hogs? Give this money to the counties where the hog problem is the greatest and pay a bounty of, say $5 for each wild hog tail brought in. It’s a common practice for farmers and some ranchers, especially those producing hay, to offer a bounty of their own for hogs removed. Trappers, using modern day technology, such as traps that are triggered by cell phone apps, are very effective in catching large numbers of hogs. The trappers then sell the hogs at prices ranging from .50 cents to .75 cents per-pound to licensed wild hog buyers.
But as Hansen explained, “If a hog dies, what eats it? Coyotes, buzzards… We’re gonna affect possibly the whole ecosystem.”
Edwin Parker, a Texan hog buyer, had the same concerns as Hansen. Additionally, he told ABC 9 KTRE, “We slaughter a few pigs and give them to people in a tight situation and need something to eat. If word gets out that all the hogs are poisoned we aren’t going to want to risk making our kids sick, family sick.”
Though Kaput is only allowed to be in feeders that adult hogs can access, the worry about it contaminating non-target species is legitimate. State wildlife veterinarian Jim LaCour spoke to the New Orleans Times-Picayune about his concerns with Louisiana possibly adopting warfarin to deal with its feral hog problem:
When the hogs eat, they’re going to drop crumbs on the outside, where small rodents can get them and not only intoxicate themselves but also birds of prey that eat them. Since the poison will be on the landscape for weeks on end, the chances of these birds eating multiple affected animals is pretty good.
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