For more than five years LSU AgCenter researchers have looked for ways to deliver lethal bait to feral hogs to control the population of the invasive species.
AgCenter animal scientist Glen Gentry and other researchers at the AgCenter Bob R. Jones Idlewild Research Station are working on a sodium nitrite bait that is showing promise but still needs more work, Gentry said.
Part of their research has focused on placing sodium nitrite bait in a capsule to kill feral hogs in a humane, yet lethal way because the chemical loses its potency once the air hits it.
“Sodium nitrite is known to pull moisture from the air once its container is opened,” Gentry said. “Once that happens, the chemical loses its lethal properties.”
Gentry and the team have found through trial and error that encapsulation is not needed because sodium nitrite retains its potency while the chemical is in a base solution.
While corn has been used as a bait, it has been determined that the pigs actually like pogie fish more, he said.
Gentry’s research also shows that the pigs have corn variety preferences as well.
Corn planted at the LSU AgCenter Bob R. Jones Idlewild Research Station involves a mix of four varieties containing different combinations of Roundup Ready, Liberty Link and Bt genes and a control containing no modifications, he said.
“There are four rows of each and three replicates of the trial,” he said. “We want to see if the pigs show preferences for the non-Liberty Link or different traits.”
Gentry has found that the pigs will consume the control non-GMO corn before eating the other corn.
Recent studies also have looked at how the bait can be used in areas known to have bear populations, Gentry said.
The population of feral hogs in the state is continuing to grow, and Gentry said in order to hold the population at current levels, 20% of the population would have to be taken out. A 2013 AgCenter survey showed feral hogs are responsible for more than $55 million in damage to agricultural enterprises statewide. Of the crops listed, soybeans took the greatest hit, with farmers losing more than $18 million. Johnny Morgan
Corn planted at the LSU AgCenter Bob R. Jones Idlewild Research Station includes a mix of four varieties containing different combinations of Roundup Ready, Liberty Link and Bt genes and a control containing no modifications. There are four rows of each and three replicates of the trial. Researchers want to see if feral hogs show preferences for herbicide-resistant or Bt-traited corn. Photo by Johnny Morgan
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture