By Carey Martin, Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation
The maker of the new Kaput feral hog bait has pulled registration for the poison in the state of Texas.
The decision comes a week after Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Dr. Mike Strain indefinitely suspended sales of the product here. The decision by Kaput’s manufacturer, Scimetrics Ltd., has left many to wonder if Louisiana's registration is next on the chopping block.
Scimetrics announced Monday that it has withdrawn its registration of Kaput in Texas because of the threat of lawsuits.
“We have received tremendous support from farmers and ranchers in the State of Texas, and have empathy for the environmental devastation, endangered species predation, and crop damage being inflicted there by a non-native animal,” the company announced in a news release. “However, under the threat of many lawsuits, our family-owned company cannot at this time risk the disruption of our business and continue to compete with special interests in Texas that have larger resources to sustain a lengthy legal battle.”
Strain has said his decision to suspend approval of Kaput was because of its potential impact on other species, particularly the Louisiana Black Bear.
Kaput was expected to be available in June or July of this year, but Strain said there is no timeline for making it available until a better feeding system is developed that will keep non-target species from consuming it.
Without the possibility of a bait being available anytime soon, Louisiana farmers and ranchers will have to stick to hunting and trapping, but other control methods are being researched and developed. There is a lot of money being spent on other ways to control the feral hog epidemic, according to Strain.
“LSU is looking at one using a virus that would be put into lice and mites that would infect the feral hogs and be spread from pig to pig,” Strain said. “That particular virus would hopefully make that pig sterile or have another effect just for that specific species.”
Louisiana farmers and ranchers want the wild hogs controlled because they cause $40 million to $60 million a year in damage to crops and pastures. But the damage goes much deeper than that.
“We must get a handle on this,” Strain said, referring to the damage that feral hogs cause to forest and woodland habitat for everything from deer to squirrels. “These pigs are destroying native habitat and native species”
There's also a human danger, according to Strain.
“They carry diseases and they are encroaching on urban and suburban areas, and getting into playground areas," he said.
While many farmers and ranchers are excited about the potential the Kaput bait has in controlling the hog population, it has never been viewed as a silver bullet. It is only another part of a total control program to keep the problem from getting worse, something Strain strongly supports.
“All of it has to work together,” Strain said. “The hunting, the trapping, the use of toxicants when we can make that workable, and new technologies to help eradicate this pest.”
The LSU AgCenter estimates the Louisiana feral hog population at over 500,000 and growing. The Texas population is estimated between 2 and 3 million hogs.