Date of this Version
Neskey, J., and K. VerCauteren. 2018. A new tool in feral swine management: sodium nitrite. Alabama Wildlife. Spring 2018.
Invasive feral swine are one of the most destructive species in the United States. Numerous agencies and organizations led by the National Feral Swine Damage Management Program are working together to reduce their impacts on agriculture, natural resources, and human health and safety. Although efforts have been successful in many areas, new damage management tools are needed. Over the next couple of years, USDA researchers and partners are field testing a new oral toxic bait for feral swine that may increase management options for wildlife and resource managers. Within a year or two, NWRC researchers are planning to conduct a field trial of sodium nitrite bait on free ranging feral swine in Alabama. The trial will be a comprehensive research effort to assess the product’s efficacy. Initially, 30 adult feral swine will be outfitted with GPS radio tracking collars so researchers can follow the fate of several known animals. Then, several sites will be baited with corn. Once feral swine reliably visit the bait sites, researchers will add feral swine-specific bait stations to the sites. During this phase, which could take a couple of weeks, increasing amounts of placebo bait (the peanut paste, grain mix without sodium nitrite) will be added to the bait stations. The bait station lids will slowly transition from opened to closed as feral swine learn to lift the lids and access the bait. Stations will be closely monitored with trail cameras for feral swine and non-target species use. When large numbers of feral swine are seen opening lids and eating bait from closed bait stations, researchers will remove the placebo bait and replace it with the sodium nitrite bait. Using trail camera data, data from radio-collared feral swine, and carcass counts, researchers will assess the efficacy of the bait trials. Results will be compared and combined with data from a similar field trial in Texas and submitted to the EPA