New feral pig toxins, baits and delivery systems

Project Leader: Assoc. Prof. Steven Lapidge, Invasive Animals CRC

Aim: To deliver PIGOUT®, HOG-GONE®, HOG-HOPPER® and feral pig population optimal management unit research to improved feral pig management both in Australia and internationally

Projects: 2.U.1, 2.U.5e, 2.U.2e, 2.U.3e and 2.U.4e – Current

Project summary

Despite their worldwide impact, feral pig control has somewhat lagged behind that of other pest species in terms of broad-scale management tools, such as toxic and biological controls, although the ecology of the species is well studied in Australia.

This project aims to:

  • identify feral pig population optimal management units
  • register and commercialise a 1080 feral pig bait — PIGOUT®
  • develop, register and commercialise an alternative toxin (sodium nitrite) feral pig bait, HOG-GONE®
  • adapt PIGOUT® baits to carry vaccines (pseudo-rabies) and fertility control agents for international collaborators
  • develop and commercialise a feral pig-specific bait hopper, the HOG-HOPPER®.

PIGOUT® – a world first commercially available manufactured, shelf-stable, target specific lethal feral pig bait containing 1080 (sodium fluoroacetate) active – was released in March 2008. PIGOUT® was the result of collaboration between Invasive Animals CRC and Animal Control Technologies Australia (ACTA) with support from Meat and Livestock Australia and the Bureau of Rural Sciences (BRS).

The next generation feral pig bait, HOG-GONE®, is now under development. The active compound in HOG-GONE® is sodium nitrite, a common human food additive, which is highly toxic to pigs and acts humanely by preventing oxygen binding to haemoglobin. Trials have shown it to be a quick-acting and potentially reversible active for selective removal of feral pigs when delivered in the HOG-GONE® matrix. The project is sponsored by Meat and Livestock Australia, BRS and the Commonwealth Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and Arts.

A novel bait delivery device, the HOG-HOPPER®, is currently being developed. HOG-HOPPER® is a low maintenance, target-specific bait hopper for population level feral pig management using PIGOUT®, HOG-GONE® or other pig bait substrates. The HOG-HOPPER® can greatly contribute to increasing the selectivity and efficiency of feral pig management in Australia. This set-and-forget approach to pig control (akin to the box of mouse bait in the shed) can also reduce the labour and costs involved in chemical management of feral pigs.

This program has a distinct commercial focus, aimed at enhancing feral pig control options for public and private land managers. The project ties in with two IA CRC demonstration sites, namely Kangaroo Island and the Daintree Wet Tropics World Heritage area. It also continues to be involved with overseas trials in New Zealand and America, as well as sourcing other markets.

In 2010 this project took on a greater international focus due to the project leader spending three months at the National Wildlife Research Center, Fort Collins Colorado, to commence a similar style HOG-GONE® project in the USA. Nitrite will also be investigated as a potential toxin for other pest species.

Key achievements

  • PIGOUT® — world’s first manufactured shelf-stable feral pig bait launched in 2008 and now commercially available.
  • Pen trials of new nitrite / HOG-GONE® formulations conducted in Queensland, New Zealand and South Australia as well as field trials on Kangaroo Island, Glenrock Station (NSW, where an 89 per cent population knockdown was achieved) and in Namadgi National Park (ACT).
  • Golder Associates has completed an extensive review of chemical product data for pesticide registration, that has shown that sufficient toxicology, metabolism and kinetics and environmental safety data exists to potentially get nitrite registered as a vertebrate pesticide.
  • Product registration readiness tasks such as non-target risk assessment research in New Zealand (with Connovation and Landcare Research), and an independent nitrite toxicosis welfare assessment in Adelaide were completed.
  • A successful HOG-GONE® review meeting was held in June 2009.
  • Conducting collaborative field trials of the HOG-HOPPER® bait delivery hopper on Kangaroo Island, and in the Paroo-Darling region, the Daintree and Namadgi National Parks.
  • Over 10 formal papers have been submitted to scientific journals and presented at major international conferences. Extension of results at international events was conducted to develop collaborations to investigate the potential use of nitrite for feral swine management in the USA and Europe.
  • Program manager winning 2010 Fulbright Professional Business/Industry (Coral Sea) Scholarship
  • Advertise HOG-HOPPER® manufacturing tender.

Key deliverables

  • Finalisation of HOG-GONE® bait formulation.
  • Assessment of toxin (sodium nitrite) residue levels in field poisoned feral pigs and article-of-commerce stability trials.
  • Completion of HOG-GONE® baiting field trials at Goondiwindi, Narrabri, Charters Towers and/or Windorah to establish its efficacy within wild pig populations.
  • Submit registration package for HOG-GONE® to APVMA by end of 2010.
  • Launch HOG-HOPPER® product.

Project team

Dr Steven Lapidge, Jason Wishart and Dr Simon Humphrys (IA CRC), Michelle Smith and Prof Linton Staples (ACTA), Dr Brendan Cowled (DAFF), Dr Johann Schrőder, Dr Wayne Hall (MLA), Dr Matt Gentle, Peter Elsworth, David Aster (Qld DEEDI), Prof Charlie Eason and Duncan MacMorran (Connovation), Dr Tyler Campbell, David Long, Dr Kathy Fagerstone, John Eismann (US Department of Agriculture – National Wildlife Research Center).

Project partners

IA CRC, Meat and Livestock Australia, Animal Control Technologies Australia (ACTA), Biosecurity Queensland, Connovation, Landcare Research, Kangaroo Island NRM Board, Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment, ACT Department of Territory and Municipal Services, NSW Livestock Health and Pest Authority, US Department of Agriculture’s National Wildlife Research Center, Desert Channels NRM Board, Cloncurry Regional Council, Bureau of Rural Science, Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and Arts, Industry and Investment NSW.

Further information

Campbell, T.A., Lapidge, S.J. and Long, D.B. (2006). Using baits to deliver Pharmaceuticals to feral swine in Southern Texas. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 34(4). 1184-1189.

Cowled, B.D., Lapidge, S.J., Smith, M.I. and Staples, L.D. (2008). Vaccination of feral pigs (Sus scrofa) using iophenoxic acid as a simulated vaccine. Australian Veterinary Journal, vol.86, no.1 & 2. 50-55.

Cowled, B.D., Aldenhoven, J., Odeh, I.O., Garrett, T., Moran, C. and Lapidge, S.J. (2008). Feral pig population structuring in the rangelands of eastern Australia: applications for designing adaptive management units. Conservation Genetics, 9(1). 211-224.

Cowled, B.D., Elsworth, P. and Lapidge, S.J. (2008). Additional toxins for feral pig (Sus scrofa) control: identifying and testing Achilles’ heels. Wildlife Research, 35(7). 651-662.

Cowled, B.D., Lapidge, S.J., Hampton, J.O. and Spencer, P.B. (2006). Measuring the Demographic and Genetic Effects of Pest Control in a Highly Persecuted Feral Pig Population. Journal of Wildlife Management, 70(6): 1690-1697.

Cowled, B.D., Lapidge, S.J., Smith, M. and Staples, L. (2006). Attractiveness of a novel omnivore bait, PIGOUT®, to feral pigs (Sus scrofa) and assessment of risks of bait uptake by non-target species. Wildlife Research, 33(8): 651-660.

Humphrys, S. and Lapidge, S.J. (2008). Delivering and registering species-tailored oral antifertility products: a review. Wildlife Research, 35(6): 578-585.

Lapidge S, Wishart J, Smith M and Staples L (2009) Is America ready for a humane feral pig ‘toxin’? Wildlife Damage Management Conference 13: 49-59.

Lapidge, S.J., Humphrys, S. and Dall, D. (2007). Global Harmonisation in the Field of Invasive Species Management Product Development . Managing vertebrate invasive species: proceedings of an international symposium., 7-9 August 2007, Fort Collins, Colorado, United States, pp. 33-42

Lapidge, S.J. (2005). Taking the fight to feral pigs. Australian Veterinary Journal, 83(5): 262-263.

Smith, M., Lapidge, S., Wishart, J., and Staples, L. (2010). The development of HOG-GONE®, a new lethal control option for the management of feral pigs in Australia. Queensland Pest Animal Symposium, Gladstone, Australia.

Spencer, P.B., Lapidge, S.J., Hampton, J.O. and Pluske, J.R. (2005). The sociogenetic structure of a controlled feral pig population. Wildlife Research, 32(4): 297-304.

Spencer, P.B., Hampton, J., Lapidge, S.J., Mitchell, J., Lee, J. and Pluske, J.R. (2006). An assessment of the genetic diversity and structure within and among populations of wild pigs (Sus scrofa) from Australia and Papua New Guinea. Journal of Genetics, 85(1): 63-66.