Friday, April 18, 2014

Feds get money to eliminate destructive feral pigs

There are about five million feral pigs in at least 39 states that are costing farmers and ranchers an estimated $1.5 billion a year in damages and control costs, reports Agri-Pulse, a Washington newsletter. The pigs, which are destroying native habitat and crops and eating endangered species, can "carry and transmit up to 30 diseases and 37 different parasites to other livestock, including the swine population raised for food." They also carry diseases that can affect people and water supplies. (USDA maps show spread of feral swine)

Dale Nolte, feral-swine initiative coordinator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, told Agri-Pulse, “Feral swine don’t know boundaries and what happens in one state affects neighboring states. Only through a concerted, comprehensive effort with the public and our state and federal partners can we begin to turn the tide on feral swine expansion and reduce their negative impacts on our economy and environment.”

The problem has gotten so bad that Congress this year appropriated $20 million to find a solution, which includes the 2014 International Wild Pig Conference held this week in Alabama, Agri-Pulse writes. "APHIS aims to have its program operating within 6 months, with about half of the funds going toward state projects. The rest will be used to set up procedures for disease monitoring, including the development of new surveillance and vaccination methods, research and administration. Funding levels for state projects will be based on current feral swine population estimates." Nolte said the goal is to eliminate the problem in two states every three to five years.

Agri-Pulse is subscription only, but a free trial is available by clicking here.

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