LSU Professor Develops Effective Bait to Kill Feral Pigs

Sodium Nitrite bait pods are proving effective for controlling feral pigs.

LSU Professor Develops Effective Bait to Kill Feral Pigs

Could Sodium Nitrate bait pods be the answer to controlling feral hog populations? Photo:

A Louisiana State University professor has developed a poison bait that might help curtail the explosive, destructive growth of feral pigs. John Pojman, a chemist at LSU, has a patent pending on the bait that is said to be lethal to pigs but otherwise environmentally friendly.

“We need to kill about 800,000 a year for the population to be stable. So, this is an enormous problem,” Pojman told Louisiana Agriculture magazine. “They pose a threat to levees, they damage property, so it’s a very serious problem, but they’re very smart. And so we need to have a mechanism that can not only kill the hog humanely, which this does, but also make sure if any scavenger comes upon the carcass, it isn’t poisoned.”

Trapping and hunting might work on localized tracts but overall don’t put a dent in feral pig populations. Millions of pigs doing billions of dollars in damage each year continue to vex officials, landowners and hunters. Pojman said this new bait might help.

“The example could be, we developed rat poison, but we haven’t eliminated rats,” he told the magazine. “I mean, I think it’s going to be one more tool in the arsenal to keep the population in control.

“As you go north, the problem is much bigger, and it has a very big crop impact to the grain farmers that plant up there,” Heath Morris, who owns a sugarcane and soybean farm in Port Allen near Baton Rouge, told the magazine. “We were very proactive in trying to get rid of them and typically we saw them during our harvest season. When you were cutting cane, you would see them running out of the cane. So, we would set up with guns and with people who were qualified of course. Whenever they came out, I mean ... they were shot.”

Heath said having to protect his crops 24/7 while staying on top of the farming is almost impossible for any farmer to do without help. He added once the product is available for sale, he would be interested in stocking up.

Hurdles still remaining for the bait include approval from the EPA and federal patent office. Pojman said his team figured out a way to make sodium nitrite palatable after it was added to fish. Early efforts revealed the nitrite broke down and created a foul smell the pigs avoided. After more testing, and the addition of an ingredient similar to antacid designed for indigestion, the fine-tuning proved reliable.

Pojman described the bait as a fishy ball that won’t crumble. The sodium nitrite within is enough to be lethal to the pigs. Their efforts show that it takes about three bait balls to kill a 300-pound pig in two hours.


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