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Lead Ban Chronicles – Updates And A Hog Apocalypse Averted

March 6, 2017

I guess it’s only right to do an update on my last lead ammo ban post, not that it’s particularly unexpected.

As an outgoing gesture, US Fish and Wildlife Service Director, Dan Ash, signed a Director’s Order which set out a plan to ban all lead ammunition and fishing tackle on any property managed by the USFWS.  This would have impacted National Wildlife Refuges, as well as some parks and “study areas”.  Even though these make up a fairly small percentage of federally managed lands in the U.S., it would have impacted many hunters and fishermen.
As I said in that previous post, I expected the Order to meet a quick, and timely end under the new administration.  As Ash had written it, there were several vulnerabilities anyway, but the new Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke, made very short work of it in one of the first actions of his tenure.  In the Order rescinding the Order, he wrote:

“After reviewing the order and the process by which it was promulgated, I have determined that the order is not mandated by any existing statutory or regulatory requirement and was issued without significant communication, consultation or coordination with affected stakeholders…”

So that’s that… for now.  Obviously, the fight over lead ammo and fishing tackle is not going away.  There are ongoing efforts in several states to pass various restrictions on the use of lead, while the propaganda continues to flow in press releases from organizations like Center for Biological Diversity, PETA, and HSUS.

All I’ll say is to stay engaged and stay educated.  If you’re going to push back against lead ammo bans, you need to know what you’re talking about or you will undermine the entire effort.

On to other news…

There was a lot of press last month after the Texas agriculture commissioner, Sid Miller, promised to unleash a “hog apocalypse” by approving the use of a poison on the feral hog population.  The approved pesticide, Kaput, contains the anti-coagulant, Warfarin.  Warfarin has been used as an active ingredient in rat poison for many years.  It is also used in humans as a blood thinner to prevent stroke and heart attacks.  The problem is, a lethal dose for hogs would also be lethal for other critters.   In addition, very little research has been done to determine the possible effects for people who eat the meat of poisoned hogs.

According to Miller and others, the use of Kaput would have minimal negative impacts on non-target species, including humans, but offered little information as to what was considered “minimal.”  This is particularly critical because feral hogs in Texas are often trapped, shipped to containment lots, and commercially slaughtered.  Without any way to know which hogs may have eaten the poison, there would be no way to safely process and distribute the meat.

The plan also included the use of feeders that only hogs could open, although the feeders didn’t really offer any method to contain spillage and waste.  Anyone who has ever tried to keep raccoons out of a feed bin can also attest that very few solutions, short of a locked, metal lid, will keep those marauders at bay.  Black bears aren’t very numerous in Texas, although there has been some resurgence in the eastern part of the state.  They also, occasionally, cross the border out of Mexico into the western parts of the state.  Anything a hog can open, a bear can open.

The concerns with the use of the warfarin-based pesticide got even louder when sportsmen and other concerned interests got word of the plan.  Petitions went out quickly, all pushing back against the plan.  Finally, on Thursday of last week (3/3/17), District Judge Jan Soifer placed a temporary hold on the hog apocalypse plan.  This should put the brakes on this plan until, at the very least, clear research can provide the necessary information to address public concerns.  Like many sportsmen and concerned citizens, I hope that shuts this particular plan down altogether.

I haven’t heard anything lately about the studies on sodium nitrite (I’ve mentioned these in the past), but this substance was showing a lot of promise as a hog control.  Since it’s not toxic to most game species, the risks of non-target poisoning would be reduced.  And for humans… well, we already eat sodium nitrite in our bacon and several other products.  The research is still stymied by some unique issues, as well as some of the same challenges the warfarin-based poison encountered, but, from what I’ve read so far, it shows some promise.

No question feral hogs are a major problem for agricultural interests, not only in Texas, but in most of the states where they have spread.  Unfortunately, it looks like we’re still a ways away from a workable solution.  In the meantime, we can all do the farmers and the habitat a favor, and shoot some hogs!

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