Texas has a new plan for its 2.5 million feral hogs: total annihilation.
Sid Miller, the state's agriculture commissioner, just approved a pesticide — called "Kaput Feral Hog Lure" — for statewide use.
"The 'hog apocalypse' may finally be on the horizon," Miller said in a statement on Tuesday.
"This solution is long overdue," he added. "Wild hogs have caused extensive damage to Texas lands and loss of income for many, many years."
Texas's agriculture commission estimates that feral hogs cause $52 million in damage each year to agricultural businesses by tearing up crops and pastures, knocking down fences and ruining equipment.
The so-called hog lure is derived from warfarin, a blood-thinning agent that's also used to kill rats and mice in homes and buildings. Animals don't die immediately from eating the odorless, tasteless chemical. That would be too kind. Instead, they keep eating it until the anti-clotting properties cause them to bleed to death internally.
This week, Miller approved a rule change in the Texas Administrative Code that allows landowners and agricultural producers to use Kaput — essentially warfarin-laced pellets — to keep feral hogs off their property.
Image: mark thompson/Getty Images
Proponents of the hog toxicant, including the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service, say it's an effective tool because it's only strong enough to kill the swine, and not other wildlife populations or livestock.
In January, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency registered Kaput's hog bait under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, a move that made the product available for general use.
Still, environmentalists and hog hunters alike staunchly oppose using warfarin to stamp out Texas's feral pig problem.
Pigs poop, after all, and other animals could ingest the warfarin along the way. Some Texans hunt the pigs for sport and food, and they're worried about eating poisoned swine.
"For Texas to introduce a poison into the equation is a bad decision in our opinion and could likely contaminate humans who unknowingly process and eat feral hogs," the Texas Hog Hunters Association said in a Change.org petition to block the rule change.
— TX Hog Hunters Assn. (@texashoghunters) February 14, 2017
Louisiana might become the next state to use Kaput to quell its feral hog population, which worries state wildlife veterinarian Jim LaCour. He said local black bears and raccoons could easily lift the lid to the cages containing the warfarin-laced pellets.
"We do have very serious concerns about non-target species," LaCour told the Times-Picayune in New Orleans.
"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," he told the newspaper.
The pesticide's manufacturer, Scimetrics Ltd. Corp., assures the pesticide is safe for humans and wildlife — just not for feral pigs.