“Working through (USDA) Wildlife Services in New Mexico, the partners in this initiative asked for funding of a pilot project for addressing control methods of the feral swine problem there. USDA agreed to put $1 million into the project, but local partners are putting in $300,000 of their own, including in-kind services to expedite this initiative,” Under Secretary Avalos told Farm Press.

Avalos says New Mexico is the first state to tackle a comprehensive statewide project to eradicate the feral swine population and says he believes there is a good chance the program will be successful. He says with eradication as the objective, even a substantial reduction in feral swine numbers would represent a major success in helping the state minimize negative effects of the invasive species.

The three areas of concern in New Mexico include the middle Rio Grande Valley because of the large amount of irrigated agriculture subject to damage, the Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation near Ruidoso because the U.S. Forest Service is already doing some eradication work and on the reservation is a potential risk to water quality because of the large number of fresh water springs, and the Southeastern part of New Mexico from the Pecos River east to the Texas State line where feral swine populations are growing.

Avalos says the pilot program will run through the end of this fiscal year, which ends in September, but local officials hope to seek additional funding to keep the project going.

In response to a question about the use of toxicants to control feral swine populations, a practice that is growing in popularity in Australia, Avalos says the use of toxicants in the U.S. is against the law. But he says as part of their ongoing feral swine research, they have been in contact with a private Australian company that is promoting the use of sodium nitrate for eradication.