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The Swine Invasion – Latest News From The Front

June 23, 2014

Monitoring the news feeds as always, I saw a couple of interesting articles regarding the efforts to manage the spread of feral hogs around the country.  First, let’s talk toxins.

At this moment, there is no approved toxin for controlling feral hogs.  While there are some products on the market that have been used (illegally in many cases), there’s nothing that is specific enough to impact a hog without posing a threat to other animals… either through direct contact or through the food chain.  Poisons are, too often, indiscriminate killers.  I’ve heard of people who have used various poisons, and almost always get a description of a “trail of carcasses,” from raccoons and opossums, to porcupines, coyotes, and birds.  There’s a reason it’s generally illegal to use this stuff… and even where legal, most folks tend to steer clear.

There’s also concern, quite valid, about using poisons on a species that some of us eat.  A pig (or an accidentally poisoned deer) can carry a pretty lethal load in its bloodstream.  The unwitting hunter who shoots one of these animals for the table is in for a nasty… or potentially lethal… surprise.  With any luck, the results will be minor illness.  But more serious consequences are definitely possible, especially if the meat is consumed by more susceptible members of the family, such as youngsters or older folks.

But what if there were a toxin that could target feral hogs without being harmful to other species?  What if, in fact, the most effective toxin for killing pigs is something we actually add to bacon for our own consumption?

I’ve mentioned this before, in passing, but researchers from the USDA and a couple of universities have discovered that sodium nitrite can be lethal to hogs.  The research is currently ongoing, as they have yet to reach the USDA’s benchmark of a 90% kill rate, but the results so far are promising.  This could be welcome news to agricultural interests and wildlife managers seeking to protect sensitive habitat, as well as to suburban homeowners in places where other control methods such as shooting or trapping are not as viable.  This article from ABC News online has a little more information, including some of the challenges and responses the researchers have to overcome in this effort.

From the ground to the air…

Aerial shooting has also proven to be a useful tool for hog control, particularly in flat, open land such as parts of Texas.  Attacking the animals from helicopters allows marksmen to kill large numbers of hogs in a single outing, thinning the local population and often driving the remaining animals off of the property.  The thing is, there aren’t enough airborne marksmen to do the job on a large-scale basis.  A couple of years back, Texas made it legal for individuals to pay for a helicopter “hunt”, but these outings are pretty expensive, putting them out of the reach of budget-conscious hunters.  That leaves a lot of ground to cover by a small handful of specialized teams.

Enter “Operation Dustoff”. 

According to their website, the mission of Operation Dustoff is as follows:

This program was developed and designed to strengthen and foster the most successful well-adjusted group of wounded service members. Our goal is to raise awareness and utilize the public’s aid to address the needs of injured/wounded service members. We are taking what the service members were trained to do for our country and creating functionality that will help them become a valuable resource to our community by utilizing their trade as an asset for hog eradication. These service members will also develop a sense of camaraderie with other injured/wounded service members by finding a common bond through friendly competition and enjoyment. Operation Dustoff provides unique and direct programs and services to meet the needs of injured/wounded service members.

The project is currently funded by corporate sponsorship and donations, and looks to build a core team of skilled, aerial marksmen to help combat the spread of feral hogs and to mitigate the damage they do, primarily to agricultural interests.  The hope is that by using trained and professional operators, more farmers will be willing to hire the teams for fly-over shooting.  At the same time, the program intends to provide a supportive opportunity and community for wounded veterans.

It sounds like a net positive to me.

If you’re interested in learning more about Operation Dustoff, either as sponsor or a participant, check out their website at: http://opdustoff.com/?page_id=21.

Comments

3 Responses to “The Swine Invasion – Latest News From The Front”

  1. The Swine Invasion – Latest News From The Front | AllHunt.com on June 23rd, 2014 16:43

    […] The Swine Invasion – Latest News From The Front […]

  2. Ferris E. Merhish (Gene) on July 26th, 2014 11:37

    Hy,

    I have lived here in the Denton, Texas area for about 4 years. I am retired and I would like to find a partner of two to go “pig” hunting with. I have equipment, and I have shooting for a number of years. I shoot at my Gun Club about 2-4 days a week and have about 15 years of military background.

    I am retired and I am very flexible as far as time is concerned. I have a ATV, as I said equipment, and saving for a trailer to haul my stuff. Not to interested in paying to hunt at this time.

    Contact me,

    Gene

    940-262-0219

  3. Phillip on July 26th, 2014 12:42

    Heya, Gene.

    You might want to take a look at Texashuntfish.com. It’s a web forum and message board where lots of Texas hunters share information. Seems like there’s always someone there looking for a hunting partner.

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