Sodium Nitrite - The New Bait To Tackle Feral Pig Populations
The same chemical used to cure bacon is now the key ingredient to poison baits that are about to be trialled across the Central Tablelands as a new control measure for feral pigs.
Senior Biosecurity Officer Mark Simpson said, “With so much feed around at the moment, it can be difficult to lure pigs into traps”.
“Sodium nitrite offers an alternative approach for landholders trying to manage feral pig numbers.”
Sodium nitrite is best known as a food preservation additive used in processed meats, and after being successfully trialled and approved in the US, and many years of local trials, it is approved for use for use on feral pigs in Australia.
The product has also been shown to break down quickly in the environment and leaves no toxic residues.
The Miragenews reported "Controlling feral pigs remains a high priority in the Central Tablelands as they are known to cause significant damage to environmentally sensitive areas and farming enterprises. Additionally, they carry diseases including brucellosis and leptospirosis, both of which can affect humans".
"While traditional techniques such as trapping, baiting and shooting continue to be reliable control options; incorporating new approaches such as sodium nitrite increases the number of options available to landholders".
Mr Simpson says that over the coming months, Central Tablelands Local Land Services will be working closely with landholders in Kanimbla, Hampton and Oberon to trial this new approach.
“If the trial proves a success, we will look to roll out this control method across the region” said Mark.
“As an added benefit, it can be used by landholders without requiring specific chemical or pesticide certification making the approach accessible to a wider variety of people.”
The Land also reported Dr Staples said the team at Animal Control Technologies Australia (ACTA), which developed the chemical and named it Hoggone, reckoned the cost per dead pig was about $5.
The hopper costs about $400, is reusable and can be moved from property to property meaning the cost can be shared among landholders.
In trials the paste without the active ingredient is first put out, then, said Dr Staples, the pigs become "besotted" with it, "they love it".
Then one good dose of sodium nitrite is added and the bait does its job.
"They're affected by it within minutes and dead within about three hours."
But the desire for the tasty morsel has them hanging around for more, meaning results are easy to tally.
Most carcases can be found within 100 metres to 200m of the hopper.
And because pigs live in family groups of 10 to 50 the whole lot can be taken out, whereas shooting from a helicopter doesn't assure the entire family unit is killed.
"Aerial shooting is suppression, not control," said Dr Staples, suggesting in any given area 75 per cent of the population needed to be taken out to begin quelling it.
He said aerial shooting cost estimates in the US, areas of which have similar feral pig problems to Australia, put per head dead from US$25 to $US50.