Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller has approved the use of pesticides in the state of Texas when targeting wild pigs. Of course, this news has startled environmentalists and hunters because there are many questions to be asked about the safety of this approach.

Warfarin is the poison in question here, and it’s the same drug found in rat poison.

What happens to a hunter if they were to eat a pig that has been exposed to this poison? What about when other wildlife, such as coyotes and vultures, are feeding on the deceased pig? Those are just some of the questions that have come up with this new approval. In fact, not long ago, OutdoorHub covered a story where a family shot a wild hog on their ranch, only to discover the pigs fat was dyed a vibrant shade of blue. 

On Tuesday, the Texas Agriculture Commissioner’s Office emailed CBS11 this statement:

 We did not make this rule change to list warfarin as a state-limited-use pesticide without fully reviewing the data and research available on this product. Kaput Feral Hog Bait has been researched extensively and field-tested in Texas over the past decade in partnerships with various state agencies including TDA. Hogs are susceptible to warfarin toxicity, whereas humans and other animals require much higher levels of exposure to achieve toxic effects.

EPA approved Kaput Feral Hog Bait’s pesticide labeling with the signal word “Caution,” which is the lowest category of toxicity to humans requiring a signal word. Although the EPA did not list this product as a federal restricted-use product, we made the decision to list warfarin as a state-limited-use pesticide in Texas so that purchase and application is made only by educated, licensed pesticide applicators who have been trained specifically on the use of this product. The product may be only bought and used by licensed pesticide applicators when dispensed in specially-designed hog feeders that have weighted lids that only open from the bottom, making it difficult for other animals to be exposed to the bait.

Warfarin has been studied extensively in animals and is practically non-toxic to birds. Due to the insolubility of warfarin in water, there should be no impact to aquatic life. Non-target wildlife, livestock and domestic pets would have to ingest extremely large quantities over the course of several days to reach a toxic level of warfarin in the bloodstream. In the event of unintended exposure, the antidote, Vitamin K, can be administered by a veterinarian. In general, secondary exposure to other animals is low because the levels of warfarin in target animals are generally too low to be toxic to either a predator or scavenger.

Warfarin at 0.005 percent as a feral hog toxicant has been shown to have a low level of residue in hog meat, especially in muscle tissue, which is what humans typically consume. One person would have to eat 2.2 lbs of hog liver–where the warfarin is most concentrated in the body–to achieve the same exposure as a human would receive in one therapeutic dose of warfarin (current therapeutic levels range from 2 to 10 mg daily). Warfarin metabolizes and exits the body fairly quickly, so a hog that was trapped and fed for several days prior to processing would most likely not have any warfarin present at the time of slaughter.

In addition, hogs who have consumed the warfarin bait will have blue dye present in the fatty tissues as soon as 24 hours after ingestion. The dye builds up in the fatty tissue, so the more bait the hog has consumed, the brighter blue the tissues will be, signaling hunters that this hog has ingested the bait. Blue dye is present in the fat directly underneath the skin as well as in the fat deposits surrounding organs and in the aforementioned liver. All will take on the characteristic blue tint of the dye, which serves as a visual indicator of bait ingestion.

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  • Tom

    leave it to the government to screw up! Why not let the hunters fix the problem. Open season, no license fees, resident, or non resident.

    • Pistolero

      Actually, it’s almost that easy to hunt hogs in Texas. No closed season, hunt day or night, even from helicopters. The problem for a city dweller like me is knowing someone who has land in the country who will allow me to come hunt.

    • Old Texian

      To hunt feral hogs in Texas requires a hunting license if hunting on non-owned land. No license needed if you are the land owner or agent of the land owner. Hunt year round. Night hunting best with thermal scope ( if ya can afford it). I prefer trapping the sounder. A trapper always gets more 😉

  • It’s a darned shame to waste those animals. I think they should be trapped in coral traps, fed corn to fatten them up, treated for parasites, then butchered and the meat given or sold at cost to charitable organizations. Even better than the government doing this, take the regulations away and let the people control the hogs by hunting and trapping themselves? The problem is government, not hogs.

    • Old Texian

      Being wild hogs they don’t feed out like domestic. But lots of pig meat is shared all around poor & rich like it. This plan is BS.

  • walt

    What happens when a person who is on blood thinner eats contaminated meat?

    • Old Texian

      Why would anyone knowingly eat contaminated meat? I remember when wildlife experts said the imported Asian grass carp wouldn’t breed or migrate to colder states. That invasive fish is almost in Michigan now!
      Why poison when you can trap & hunt.
      I call this BS.

  • Ock

    Most ridiculous. There’s at least tens of thousands of hunters, if not hundreds of thousands, that would love to come down and take care of the problem and wouldn’t be putting tons of toxic substances into the environment. Trouble is Texas doesn’t have much for public land. Land owners want to treat it like elk hunting and charge up the ying yang to hunt on private land, so it’s not a realistic consideration. When they could’ve played fair and realized the help that would’ve come. Now they get poison instead. Stupid and greedy on both sides. If they do this I will likely NOT ever come down for a hog hunt. I don’t care if they say the poison almost goes away. Toxins get stored in fat and can cause free radicals to attack the body-cancer….. Plus, “almost” only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

    • Hogdowg

      Absolutely wright. Greed has kept hunters from coming down. If they had allowed hunters to harvest pigs. The odds are great that the land owner could have Sold a hunt for an Exotic or whitetail. But the Greedy bastards now must deal with this problem.

  • Old Texian

    BS! The most proven safe and ethical means to control feral hogs is trapping the entire sounder & hunting. Poisioning is unethical & not what should be done as humans.
    If a neighboring land owner takes this method & the hogs they poisoned died on my land, next to my stock tank or creek, then I’m headed to the lawyer’s office. This is a liability issue. This is an evironmental issue. It appears that habitat studies are missing. I’m mad. And I have written both TDA and my state Rep. If I have to drive up to Austin they will hear me in person. I trap hogs I get the entire sounder. Bad move TDA. Bad and shame.

    • Arteest

      This is the same chit the Dr. gives my m-in-law. Maybe she doesn’t get blood clots but she bruses just leaning against the wall. It IS poison and this stinks. Good luck OT. I can’t wait to visit TX for a pig hunt but this worries me.

  • Gary F. Brennan

    Current hunting for hogs in Texas, including depredation as well as licensed hunting, is only keeping the population in check. A six month old pig can have babies so the population can triple every year. There are not enough hunters to do the job. Wildlife Services took thousands out of just one ranch with helicopter and marksmen. Had to send in another pallet of ammo. It was wearing down the shooters too much. Oh and this was in one week. Trapping sounders is an effective means of taking care of the pigs but they are smart. If they see one of their sounder get caught, it is almost impossible to get them into the corral again without a lot of time consuming work. It is a problem which will never go away despite the methods which are being used currently. Bait is just another tool to use and hopefully will lead to a more managed population in Texas.

    • rick

      i guess you dont hunt or eat the wild wild pig you shoot? Those of us that do dont want the poison let loose in the enviroment cause there will be animals that eat the dead pigs that are not collected properly like they should be.. This is not the first time they made bad decisions, like lets put grass carp in the lakes to control vegetation!!! Bad choice.

  • erik

    I would love to hog hunting in central texas but since everything in texas is privatly owned, with the exception of very small tracts of land, you have to know someone or pay $500 to 2000 for a hunt. I am not willing to pay too much money to help you out with your problem. If theyre that bad you would think land owner would welcome you onto their land.

    • Ryan Miller

      I run an outfitter in N Central TX, where hogs are a problem. No land owner around here is just going to let anyone with a gun on their property. That’s why they call in people like me and other professional hunters.

      If you would like to try your luck on some of our land we will show you some pigs and a true Texas experience. Look us up on Facebook @ Four County Outfitters.

  • FL_BigFoot

    Trap them. It’s the easiest way to capture the feral creatures and cut down on their numbers. Poison will kill too many other species.

  • Lee

    My biggest concern is the deer population. What if deer eat some of the poison and then people eat the deer? If this in any way threathens the safety of venison then I am one hundred percent against it, and it will take a lot to prove to me that it isn’t a threat to them. To believe that there isn’t any chance that deer may eat some of it is not realistic. They will eat it and then what? The deer heard in Texas is worth millions, not to mention the health and welfare of the millions of people who consume Texas venison.

  • WPR

    I am an avid hunter and trapper of wild pigs. I don’t believe this article is factual. I know the father of the hunter that shot this pig with a rifle in Morgan Hill, CA and the tests that were run on this pig samples at a local college. The test results showed that this pig had eaten squirrel poison which caused the poisoning, blue fat and making the meat unsafe for consumption. Unless the same poison is being used in Texas someone needs to check their facts.