The state is considering several new options, including one involving cell phone pictures, to get the wild hog population under control.
According to the LSU AgCenter, there are about 500,000 wild hogs here in Louisiana. The high population is destroying farmer crops, wildlife habitats and can spread diseases.
“Wild pigs are not native to Louisiana,” Travis Dufour, biologist supervisor for the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, said. “Our ecosystems are not used to them.”
State researchers and private businesses are trying to create and get approval for poison-delivery systems to kill off some of the wild hogs.
One of those systems is the Hog Annihilation Machine, or H.A.M. When pig noises are detected the machine opens its doors and poisonous feed is provided.
LSU AgCenter animal research scientist Glen Gentry said the H.A.M. is a step in the right direction, but still leaves the possibility that other animals could feed on the poisonous bait. To ensure the wrong animal does not eat the bait he’s doing some new research on a feeder.
“When pigs come the feeder, it (the feeder) will dispense whole-shell corn and the camera takes pictures when there is movement,” Gentry said. “Those pictures would then be sent to a cell phone.”
If the image shows a feral hog, a message from the cell phone can be set to the feeder to release bait.
“The bait is pogi fish laced with sodium nitrite,” Gentry said.
Gentry said the bait would be laced with 182 kg of sodium nitrite, which is enough to kill a hog. That hog would be left in the wild for animals to prey on. Gentry said the sodium nitrite in the dead hog would not affect mammals or humans if the hog is eaten.
“The sodium nitrite breaks down so fast that it would not affect them,” Gentry said.
Gentry said they are testing what happens if birds or other animals prey on the dead boar.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency would have to approve the systems before they go into use.