Field tests will start in early 2018 in Texas on feral hog poison baits made from sodium nitrite, a meat preservative that’s used to cure bacon and sausage.
When eaten in high doses over a short period of time, sodium nitrite is toxic to feral hogs, which get faint, lose consciousness and quickly die, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says.
“Although trapping, aerial operations, and recreational hunting of feral swine have effectively reduced damage in some areas, studies show that at least 70 percent of feral swine must be removed each year in order to prevent population growth,” Deputy Wildlife Services Administrator Bill Clay says.
The risk of eating poisoned meat is low, Foster said. He fed vultures and other scavengers meat from poisoned pigs and the animals were not affected.
“Hunters or wildlife would not be at risk from consuming poisoned pigs,” Foster said. “There’s less sodium nitrite in the tissues than in cured meat or jerky.”
The problem with sodium nitrite is getting hogs — and only hogs — to eat it. Much of the research on the poison has dealt with how to convince wary pigs to take the bait.
“It’s a lot like eating salt. It’s not very palatable once you consider it,” Tracy Tomascik of the Texas Farm Bureau said.