When it comes to breeding, feral hogs are prolific.

"A typical sow in the wild will have about a litter and a half a year, which she'll average about 6 piglets. So, it doesn't take long for them to ramp up numbers," says Glen Gentry, an animal science researcher for the LSU AgCenter and an expert on the wild pig problem.

In an effort to better control the exploding feral hog population in Louisiana, as trapping and shooting the animals do not appear to be having an impact, AgCenter researchers are developing a bait containing sodium nitrite to poison the hogs. 

Gentry says after they determine the lethal dose of sodium nitrite that will kill 90% of pigs that they feed it to, they'll work on making the bait attractive so the hogs will eat it.

"We're looking at putting flavoring and aromas and that sort of thing. We'll start preference trials I'm hoping this fall to determine what the pigs actually like and what attracts them to a bait," Gentry said.

Gentry says it's expensive to trap or shoot hogs. In Texas, the best method has been "aerial gunning" - shooting hogs from a helicopter - and it costs about $20 to $26 dollars per pig.  The costs are higher in Louisiana.

"I was visiting with Dr. Jim Lacour, who works with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and asked him what's it cost because they had a helicopter fly across some of the parishes in Louisiana, what the cost on a per pig basis here was, and it was about $158," Gentry said.

Gentry says the poisoned bait probably won't be available for public use for another four years.

Photo: Tony Campbell/Shutterstock