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News Link • Animals and Pets

To Poison Feral Pigs, Feds Turn to ... Bacon Ingredient?

• Newser Editors and Wire Services
A preservative used to cure bacon is being tested as poison for the nation's estimated 5 million feral hogs, which cost the US about $1.5 billion a year—including $800 million in damage to farms. Hunting and trapping won't do the trick for these big, wildly prolific animals. "It looks like a bulldozer has been through your field," says one Mississippi farmer of the damage wrought; in addition, feral pigs' feces was likely behind the 2006 E. coli outbreak in California that killed three people. So, the US Department of Agriculture kicked off a $20 million program this year, and it's focusing on a somewhat unlikely poison: Sodium nitrite, used as a salt to preserve meat, including bacon, is far more toxic to pigs than people and is used in Australia and New Zealand to kill feral swine. USDA scientists say it may be the best solution in the US, but they're not yet ready to ask for federal approval as pig poison.

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