Effective sodium nitrite encapsulation could be key to managing feral hogs

Randy LaBauve, Gould, Frances I., Blanchard, Tobie M.  |  11/9/2017 9:43:41 PM

A team of researchers is working to develop and deliver a prototype bait capsule designed to decrease numbers of invasive feral hogs — rapidly reproducing animals that have caused tens of millions of dollars in damage to Louisiana row crops.

Now in the third year of the project, the team is trying to effectively encapsulate sodium nitrite as part of a bait delivery system to kill feral hogs.

It takes just 8 grams of sodium nitrite to kill a 100-pound pig, Gentry said.

“The problem is when we take sodium nitrite out of a container, it pulls moisture out of the air and loses its lethal properties,” said Glen Gentry, project investigator and resident coordinator of the Bob R. Jones-Idlewild Research Station. “It quickly starts turning into sodium nitrate and becomes ineffective at killing the hogs.”

Scientists from the LSU AgCenter Bob R. Jones-Idlewild Research Station, the AgCenter School of Renewable Natural Resources Medicinal Plant Lab, the LSU Department of Chemistry and the University of Louisiana Monroe College of Health and Pharmaceutical Sciences are collaborating on the project, which is funded by a grant from the Louisiana Soybean and Grain Research and Promotion Board.

Prolific and destructive animals, feral hogs damage row crops and cause significant economic loss to farmers.

A 2013 LSU AgCenter survey showed hogs caused $55 million in damage to agricultural production statewide. Soybeans were the commodity hardest hit, with farmers losing $18 million.

AgCenter researchers have developed a new bait made from pogie fish. While the hogs prefer this newer bait to corn, scientists continue to work on a coating that would stabilize the potency and viability of sodium nitrite in the bait.

Any new bait technologies will need approval from the U. S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Researchers are also evaluating two feeders designed to release poisoned bait to feral hogs while excluding other animals.

The Hog Annihilation Machine, or H.A.M., uses visual recognition software to identify the animals as hogs and then opens a flap, releasing poisoned bait.

The Wild Pig Feeder uses exclusion bars designed to deter other animals and a weight-activated floor pan that measures for a hog’s weight before allowing access to poisoned bait.

Both traps are being tested to ensure black bears cannot access the systems.

Randy LaBauve

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