Earlier this year, the USDA announced it was testing sodium nitrate, the same preservative used to cure bacon, to poison feral hogs.  Feral hogs cause roughly $1.5 billion in damages nationally each year.

According to the Associated Press in an article here, sodium nitrate is more toxic to pigs than people and is used in Australia and New Zealand to help control feral swine populations. Here is the United States, USDA scientists believe it also may be the best solution to U.S. farmers, ranchers and landowners to help control the invasive species.

There’s just one problem – the wild hogs aren’t biting at the bitter taste of sodium nitrate.

That’s where Glen Gentry, an animal science researcher with the Louisiana State University AgCenter, comes in.  He recently spoke at a symposium to discuss the latest on his study to control feral hogs.  

In his research, Gentry found the pigs were attracted to certain flavors, such as strawberry, but the grain-based bait had some problems.

“When the sodium nitrite is added to the mix, consumption tends to drop off,” said Gentry.

The answer to this issue may be in an unlikely source – gummy bears.

“We are looking at semi-solid bait forms developed by LSU AgCenter researcher Zhijun Liu in the School of Renewable Natural Resources,” he explained. “I like using gummy bears as a way to hide the salty and bitter taste of sodium nitrite.”

His goal is to kill 90 percent of the pigs. So far, Gentry is at 68 percent. Click here to read more.

Gentry’s research is still ongoing, and PorkNetwork will report on the latest as it is available.

Gentry’s efforts are just the latest in the race to control the invasive species. In April, the USDA kicked off a $20 million program to control feral swine.  

These wild hogs have also been eyed in spreading Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus, a fast-spreading disease that poses no human health risk but is almost always fatal in newborn piglets. Read, “Feral hogs eyed in PEDv spread.”