Last week’s column, about the debate over whether Texans should be allowed to poison feral hogs, hit a nerve (click here to read it). It seems there are a lot of folks who are intensely passionate about whether hogs should be killed, and how. And I think that’s a good thing; I just didn’t expect to stir up a hornet’s nest. Besides which, ‘Hog Poison’ would be a great name for a rock band.
Ted Nugent saw my column on the San Angelo Live! website, and posted it to his Facebook page. Which proves either that the Motor City Madman has way too much time on his hands these days, or else the issue of using warfarin to thin out the feral hog population is causing a big enough fight that people are Googling it and reading everything they can find about it, even stuff written by people like me. Kind of scary.
Nugent gets a lot more hits than I do, which I figure is probably a good thing, but one of the people who follow him is my Chief Editor at Texas Fish & Game magazine, Chester Moore. Chester is a sharp fellow who, given the opportunity, could turn out to be the next Steve Irwin. He loves animals just as much as Steve, but he’s smart enough to know that hunting is a conservation tool. Chester once went swimming with some great white sharks. On purpose.
Well, Chester saw my column, and asked me to write one for TF&G, except with actual facts, instead of just stuff I made up. He knows how much I hate research, so he knew he was asking a lot, but Chester rarely asks me for anything except to get my column to him on time, which I rarely do. So when he wants something, I generally try to give it to him. Even if I don’t want to.
So, I did some real research on warfarin, which is the anti-coagulant used in Kaput Feral Hog Bait, which is actually approved by the EPA. And you know the EPA. They hate everything.
As it turns out, the stuff I wrote in my newspaper column last week was all true. The only thing I should have thought of, but didn’t, was that if people start using Kaput to poison hogs, it’s possible that collared peccaries, commonly known as javelinas, might get into it. Not surprisingly, Chester thought of that, and wrote a short piece about it. So you can see why he’s the editor and I’m the writer.
The special feeders required to use Kaput, according to the restrictions required by Texas Ag Commissioner Sid Miller (and blocked by Travis County Judge Jan Soifer), have lids that weigh ten pounds, so hogs can get to the bait, but most other animals can’t. Javelinas, however, can get into pretty much anything hogs can. And javelina numbers are declining, not to mention the fact that they don’t do millions of dollars’ worth of damage every year, like hogs do. No one wants to poison javelinas. Well, no one with any sense.
So Chester was right about that. But then, collared peccaries aren’t hogs. They look a lot like hogs, and they smell similar to hogs, and they eat pretty much the same stuff as hogs do, in the wild. But javelinas are an entirely different species from hogs. Which makes me wonder if javelinas are necessarily as susceptible to warfarin as hogs are. Chester didn’t think to mention that little question, in his fancy dancy article. Which is why he’s the editor and I’m the writer.
I decided to find out if a small dose of warfarin will kill a javelina, like it will a hog. Since I’m no expert, I did some research and found . . . nothing. Yet. I have no idea if Kaput will hurt javelinas. But I haven’t given up. Yet. And if I find out anything, I’ll let you know.
What I CAN tell you is that, as bad as the hog situation is in Texas, it could be worse. Oh, we’ve got hogs, and plenty of them, and they tear a lot of stuff up, but at least they aren’t radioactive. The folks in Fukushima, Japan can’t say that. Well, they can, but they’d be lying.
The nuclear plant in Fukushima melted down several years ago, and a lot of folks had to leave their homes. The radioactivity is low enough now for them to return in some areas, but they can’t because there are hundreds of hogs running around northern Japan that have levels of cesium-137 that are 300 percent above safe. Which is a lot. And the hogs are pretty wild. They tear up crops, run through houses, and even attack humans sometimes. Which is bad news.
The good news, on the other hand, is that this situation might spawn a new wave of Japanese horror movies, without Godzilla. Before long we could be sitting on our couches on Saturday nights, munching popcorn, watching ‘Hogzilla Roots Up Tokyo,’ or ‘The Frightful Fukushima Feral Hogs.’ I’m in.
But I’ll take our feral hogs over Japan’s radioactive ones any day. Besides which, ‘Atomic Tuskers’ would be a great name for a rock band . . .
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who never swims with great white sharks. Or even good white sharks. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.