SANANTONIO-- With more than 2 million feral hogs in the state, Texas Wildlife Services is exploring a new option to control the hog population: poison them.

Last year, by destroying crops, yards and even golf courses, feral hogs caused an estimated $400 million worth of damages in the state.

So far, efforts to slow the population growth down, such as by hunting and trapping the hogs, have been unsuccessful.

We are not able to take enough to affect the breeding population, explained Michael Bodenchuk with Texas Wildlife Services.

However, Bodenchuck said they may have found a solution feed them HogGone, a poisonous bait that is fatal within minutes.

The most important part for us is that it be humane and that it only be delivered to hogs, he said.

This is why Wildlife Services started testing out a specialized hog hopper this month. The hopper is designed so that only feral hogs can access the bait.

There's a bar that has to be lifted with a hog's nose in order to gain access to that, Bodenchuk said. It s very natural for a hog to do that, very unnatural for any other animal. A raccoon couldn't do it if it wanted to.

Bodenchuk said the hoppers will be tested with non-lethal bait for several months before Wildlife Services seeks approval to use poisonous bait.

There will always be feral hogs in Texas.We have passed the point of no return, Bodenchuck said. But we believe that we will be able to reduce the population and reduce the damage that they cause significantly with this.

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