UPDATED | February 21, 2017 5:00 PMBy Andrea Lucia

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NORTH TEXAS (CBS11) – Announcing the “feral hog apocalypse” is within reach, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller has approved of the first pesticide targeting wild pigs.

The move has upset hunters, who’ve gathered more than 1,200 signatures in opposition within two days.

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“We don’t think poison is the way to go,” said Eydin Hansen, Vice President of the Texas Hog Hunters Association.

He prefers hunting and trapping methods to control the invasive species.

Hansen has been hunting hogs since he was 16.

“It’s a way to feed your family,” he said.

He worries soon he won’t want to take that risk.

“If this hog is poisoned, do I want to feed it to my family? I can tell you, I don’t.”

The approved poison, Kaput Feral Hog Lure, contains warfarin, the same drug used to kill rats or prescribed by doctors, in smaller doses, to prevent blood clots.

Hunters and conservationists are afraid other animals may be exposed to toxin.

“If a hog dies, what eats it? Coyotes, buzzards…” said Hansen. “We’re gonna affect possibly the whole ecosystem.”

The Kaput product website claims its low toxicity decreases that risk.

The company has also created a bait station to disseminate it that limits access to other wildlife.

Hansen remains skeptical.

“I personally don’t think it’s going to work,” he said.

Commissioner Miller told the State, in light of the product’s approval his department would no longer need $900,000 earmarked for feral hog control research.

On Tuesday, the Texas Agriculture Commissioner’s Office emailed CBS11 this statement:

 We did not make this rule change to list warfarin as a state-limited-use pesticide without fully reviewing the data and research available on this product. Kaput Feral Hog Bait has been researched extensively and field-tested in Texas over the past decade in partnerships with various state agencies including TDA. Hogs are susceptible to warfarin toxicity, whereas humans and other animals require much higher levels of exposure to achieve toxic effects.

EPA approved Kaput Feral Hog Bait’s pesticide labeling with the signal word “Caution,” which is the lowest category of toxicity to humans requiring a signal word. Although the EPA did not list this product as a federal restricted-use product, we made the decision to list warfarin as a state-limited-use pesticide in Texas so that purchase and application is made only by educated, licensed pesticide applicators who have been trained specifically on the use of this product. The product may be only bought and used by licensed pesticide applicators when dispensed in specially-designed hog feeders that have weighted lids that only open from the bottom, making it difficult for other animals to be exposed to the bait.

Warfarin has been studied extensively in animals and is practically non-toxic to birds. Due to the insolubility of warfarin in water, there should be no impact to aquatic life. Non-target wildlife, livestock and domestic pets would have to ingest extremely large quantities over the course of several days to reach a toxic level of warfarin in the bloodstream. In the event of unintended exposure, the antidote, Vitamin K, can be administered by a veterinarian. In general, secondary exposure to other animals is low because the levels of warfarin in target animals are generally too low to be toxic to either a predator or scavenger.

Warfarin at 0.005 percent as a feral hog toxicant has been shown to have a low level of residue in hog meat, especially in muscle tissue, which is what humans typically consume. One person would have to eat 2.2 lbs of hog liver–where the warfarin is most concentrated in the body–to achieve the same exposure as a human would receive in one therapeutic dose of warfarin (current therapeutic levels range from 2 to 10 mg daily). Warfarin metabolizes and exits the body fairly quickly, so a hog that was trapped and fed for several days prior to processing would most likely not have any warfarin present at the time of slaughter.

In addition, hogs who have consumed the warfarin bait will have blue dye present in the fatty tissues as soon as 24 hours after ingestion. The dye builds up in the fatty tissue, so the more bait the hog has consumed, the brighter blue the tissues will be, signaling hunters that this hog has ingested the bait. Blue dye is present in the fat directly underneath the skin as well as in the fat deposits surrounding organs and in the aforementioned liver. All will take on the characteristic blue tint of the dye, which serves as a visual indicator of bait ingestion.

(©2017 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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