USDA researchers are looking at innovations and smart technology to develop better traps to help control feral swine populations, USDA’s Rod Bain reports. Agricultural damage to crops alone from feral swine costs around $1.5 billion a year. Not to mention, concerns of disease spread such as the recent announcement of feral swine testing positive for pseudorabies in Colorado.

There are several methods to curb feral swine population growth. Traps are a popular way to catch feral swine. Historically, traps work when trap doors drop down after a pig on the inside of the trap hits some sort of trigger mechanism.

The challenge? Feral pigs run in groups called sounders.

“When the first pig gets in the trap, it pumps whatever the trigger is. Often there are still others in the group that are outside, so you don’t catch the whole group. And the ones that are outside of the trap are educated to the dangers and are harder to catch in the future,” says U.S. Forest Service wildlife biologist John Kilgo.

Although hunting feral swine is helping to slow population growth of these invasive pests, it is not occurring in satisfactory numbers to prevent an increase in population. Researchers are now studying whole sounder trapping at a test site in South Carolina.

“With the advent of failure-enabled cameras, we now have the capability to put a camera on a trap that will send images of what’s in the trap, which pigs were in the trap, and then can in turn receive commands from the trapper to close the gate when the trapper is ready,” Kilgo says.

If you know the composition of the sounder you’re trying to trap, determined through pre-trapping trail camera work, you can wait for all the pigs to get it the trap before you close the trap, he adds.

“It’s a way that camera technology enables us to get the whole sounder and not leave some out there that are harder to catch in the future,” Kilgo says.

Similar research and development are being conducted by private companies, he says. More of this technology is becoming available to both wildlife control entities and the general public.

Pork Farm Journal | Jennifer Shike | January 07, 

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