Glow-in-the-Dark Bait: LSU’s Answer to the Million Hog Menace!

August 24, 2023
2 mins read
feral Hog bait

The AgCenter & Department of Chemistry at Louisiana State University have achieved a significant milestone by patenting a bait designed to combat the burgeoning population of feral hogs. With their rapid reproductive rates, these feral hogs have posed a persistent challenge, inflicting millions in damages to Louisiana’s agricultural fields. Over the past decades, Louisiana has seen its feral hog population double, now estimated to hover around 1 million. These wild hogs, notorious for their destructive tendencies, roam in packs and tirelessly root up fields in their quest for food. The economic toll is profound, with damages in Louisiana alone estimated at $91 million annually.

The bait, which has been under development for several years, intriguingly employs sodium nitrate as its primary ingredient. Shaped reminiscently of gummy bears, it carries a fishy flavour and even possesses the ability to glow under backlights, facilitating the location of any remnants. Within just three hours of consumption, hogs that partake of this bait exhibit lethargy and ultimately succumb. Glen Gentry, one of the patented inventors and an esteemed animal scientist at the LSU AgCenter, emphasized the potency of sodium nitrate. While lethal to swine, it degrades into compounds that are benign over time.

The journey to perfecting the bait was not without its challenges. It demanded multiple iterations to strike a balance between efficacy and palatability. Dehydrated fish emerged as the ingredient that finally enticed the hogs. The bait’s gummy-like consistency is strategic, ensuring it remains whole when bitten, thus minimizing leftovers and protecting other species.

Before this innovative bait graces the public, it must first undergo rigorous field trials to ascertain its shelf life and secure the nod from the EPA. The patent credits other inventors, including John, an LSU chemistry professor, and Baylen Thompson, a former graduate student mentored by Pojman. The bait’s inception is hailed as a monumental stride in addressing the “pigdemic” that has beleaguered the region.

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Its minimal environmental footprint coupled with its safety for non-target species renders the bait a beacon of hope. Its rubbery texture and inherent fluorescence, shining brightly under a blacklight, ensure easy detection and retrieval of any pieces left behind. The current research thrust is centered on refining bait delivery methods, exploring avenues like burying the bait or leveraging cellphones for remote dispersal. The project owes its momentum to various stakeholders, including research institutes and boards, who have generously funded its research and development.

To put things in perspective, the sheer number of wild hogs in Louisiana is staggering, equivalent to filling ten Tiger Stadiums. These hogs, not confined to rural landscapes, are making inroads into urban territories, lured by their insatiable hunger. Jim LaCour, the State’s wildlife veterinarian, underscored the increasing adaptability of these hogs, pointing to their frequent sightings in towns and their penchant for garbage dumps.

Their reproductive efficiency is unparalleled, with their numbers surging faster than any other large mammal globally. A 2022 study from the AgCenter elucidated the economic ramifications, revealing an annual damage of $91.1 million, with a significant two-thirds attributed to crop losses. The bait’s development is perceived as a glimmer of hope in this escalating crisis, with the team actively scouting for apt locations and funding for subsequent trials. The term “pigdemic” aptly encapsulates the magnitude and gravity of the predicament, underscoring the pressing need for efficacious solutions. As the bait inches closer to its public debut, it embodies the promise of a paradigm shift in the combat against the feral hog menace, epitomizing a harmonious blend of effectiveness, safety, and environmental stewardship.

Govind Tekale

Embarking on a new journey post-retirement, Govind, once a dedicated teacher, has transformed his enduring passion for current affairs and general knowledge into a conduit for expression through writing. His historical love affair with reading, which borders on addiction, has evolved into a medium to articulate his thoughts and disseminate vital information. Govind pens down his insights on a myriad of crucial topics, including the environment, wildlife, energy, sustainability, and health, weaving through every aspect that is quintessential for both our existence and that of our planet. His writings not only mirror his profound understanding and curiosity but also serve as a valuable resource, offering a deep dive into issues that are critical to our collective future and well-being.

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