CLINTON, La. – A new research project designed to control feral hogs was discussed at the LSU AgCenter wildlife field day at the Bob R. Jones-Idlewild Research Station near Clinton on May 3.
The project is designed to last for two years and will involve three parishes during the final phase, said Dearl Sanders, professor and coordinator at the station.
“This is a very sizable grant from the Pennington Foundation that was matched with funds from LSU Vice President for Agriculture Bill Richardson to conduct the study,” Sanders said.
Louisiana and several other states are looking for ways to control the destruction caused by feral hogs, and AgCenter researchers are moving forward on what could prove to be the best option so far, said LSU AgCenter animal science researcher Glen Gentry.
“We are currently looking at the use of sodium nitrite, which is a toxicant, to control the animals because it’s been proven that hunting and trapping alone does not remove enough of these animals because they are so prolific,” Gentry said.
In addition to developing the toxicant, Sanders said another phase of the grant will provide traps to landowners in East and West Feliciana and East Baton Rouge parishes.
Also on the program, experts explained techniques for estimating white-tailed deer age using tooth wear and replacement.
Vic Blanchard, wildlife biologist with A. Wilbert Sons LLC, and wildlife consultant David Moreland, who is retired from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, showed the jawbones and antlers of different age classes and explained how to use each in determining deer age.
“The main message that we want to convey this morning is the importance of documenting your deer herd,” Moreland said. “Keeping good harvest records will give you a good idea about age and growth of the deer on your place.”
Blanchard showed how to check the condition of the teeth in order to determine the age of the deer.
Participants at the field day also were taken on a wagon tour to different stops on the station where experts provided information that will be useful for the hunters and landowners in their deer and hog management programs.
LSU AgCenter wildlife specialist Don Reed and Tony Vidrine, Wildlife and Fisheries biologist, led small groups through an area of woods to show how to do a survey to determine the wildlife population in a particular area.
Weather conditions as well as the size of the deer population are two considerations when looking at the availability of understory browse on a landowner’s property, Vidrine said.
“Feral hogs are the biggest problem that landowners are having right now, though,” Reed said. “You can start out talking about other problems, but the conversation will normally end with the problem of these hogs.”
Reed said that is why Gentry’s research into the use of toxicants is so important.
LSU AgCenter horticulture researcher Charles Johnson discussed his research on varieties of mayhaw, crab apple, persimmon and wild plum trees that can be improved for wildlife – especially white-tailed deer.
“What we’re doing is collecting natural, soft-mast trees, and we want to improve the genetics of these trees because the trees that are available have not been selected for any attributes for wildlife,” Johnson said.
The wildlife field day is cosponsored by the LSU AgCenter Bob R. Jones-Idlewild Research Station, the South Louisiana Quality Deer Management Association and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.Johnny Morgan
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