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Killing Texas feral hogs with poison is effective, but time-consuming, study shows

East Texas feral hogs after they’ve been trapped and transferred to a trailer.
East Texas feral hogs after they’ve been trapped and transferred to a trailer.

There are mixed results from a study on the effectiveness of using toxicants to reduce Texas’s feral hog population. The good news is a warfarin-based toxicant has proven to be an effective tool. The bad news is it is very time-consuming.

"We saw a high level of reduction in individual sounders that were feeding on toxic bait," said Mike Bodenchuk, state director for the Texas Wildlife Service. Bodenchuk helped spearhead a two-year study on the effectiveness of using poison on feral hogs.

"The legislature directed us to study whether or not the toxicant would be effective in landowner use. So, our study was to use landowners to apply the toxicant," said Bodenchuk. "We were directed to do it in multiple regions and in multiple seasons."

Bodenchuk says if landowners followed the very precise protocols for use of the toxicant it was effective at reducing the pig population. The bad news is the process is time-consuming. It takes six weeks to set up the traps and properly bait the hogs.

"This isn't a single-feeding type of bait. It requires multiple feedings," said Bodenchuk.

Those multiple feedings involve luring the pigs into an area to eat while slowly adding the warfarin-based toxicant until they receive a lethal dose. The protocol can easily be disrupted, greatly reducing the effectiveness of the baiting process.

"If landowners tried to cut corners on that process, reduce the time, go too fast then their efficacy goes down. We actually had one bunch of pigs, someone shot at them while they were using the feeder and they quit using that feeder," said Bodenchuk.

The length of time it takes to use the warfarin-based toxicant is likely to limit how many people are willing to use it versus simply shooting the feral hogs. Bodenchuk says he expects the toxicant will mainly be used by landowners in heavily wooded areas where it is hard to shoot because of all the ground cover. He also says landowners who have property where the pigs cross in and out of on a daily basis might prefer the toxicants as well.

The Texas Department of Agriculture has to give approval before the toxicant can be sold to consumers.