- Associated Press - Monday, March 17, 2014

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Add up all the wild hogs in Louisiana, and you get roughly the same number of people who live in Baton Rouge and New Orleans combined.

The exploding feral hog population in the southeastern U.S. causes an estimated $1.5 billion in damage every year as the voracious eaters root up pastures, destroy crops and generally wreak havoc everywhere they go.

LSU’s Agricultural Center is working on another strategy that could one day be used in conjunction with the sharpshooting to get wild hog populations under control.

Phil Elzer, the LSU AgCenter’s program leader for animal sciences, tells The Advocate (https://bit.ly/1iV9aWp) the idea is to use the animals’ legendary greediness against them in developing a bait that proves lethal to wild pigs, without harming other animals.

“This isn’t going to be like rat poison, where if you give it in very high doses, you can kill anything, including the nontarget species,” Elzer said. “We don’t want to just throw something out there and it ends up killing bears or other wildlife.”

With a $108,000 grant from the Pennington Foundation and matching funds from the AgCenter, Elzer said LSU researchers are studying an Australian product.

He explains that it’s a type of salt, ironically used as a food preservative in pork products.

“It’s very toxic to pigs but not to humans or dogs or cattle and other farm animals,” he said.

When ingested, the salt causes a blood disorder in pigs, namely their red blood cells lose the ability to carry oxygen to different tissues in the body, Elzer said.

Other animals, including humans, horses, dogs, cats and sheep, carry an enzyme at levels sufficient enough to prevent that blood disorder, while pigs do not, he said.

A wild hog that has eaten a large enough dosage of the salt product would slowly lose consciousness from low levels of oxygen until it falls asleep and doesn’t wake back up. Elzer estimates death would come within 30 minutes.

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Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com

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