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Georgia Albany Feral Swine Control Pilot Project

Points of Contact

Tina Jerome 
State Resource Conservationist 
USDA-NRCS State Office
355 E Hancock Ave Athens, GA 30601
706-546-2009

Odin Stephens 
District Supervisor 
USDA-APHIS Wildlife Services 200 Phoenix Road
Athens, GA 30605
706-546-5637

Project Area

The Flint River and its tributaries covers 1,358 square miles over seven counties in Georgia. This important watershed provides habitat for an abundance of species and may be used as a refuge for growing feral swine populations. The Ichawaynochaway Creek eventually flows into the Flint River and will be the focus of this pilot project area. The project area contains four counties (Calhoun, Baker, Terrell, and Dougherty). Over 50% of the project area is in agriculture surrounding Ichawaynochaway Creek which is presumably providing refuge for feral swine and a network to expand populations. Much of the project area is privately owned, but a portion of the area includes Chickasawhatchee Wildlife Management Area (WMA). This WMA is managed by Department of Natural resources and provides the public with recreational hunting and fishing opportunities. Feral swine are devastating local agricultural production, which is the economic engine of southwest Georgia. They are also significantly impacting natural resources, including native wildlife habitat, water quality, and soil health.
 
Historical feral swine control efforts on properties have seemingly been ineffective to combat feral swine damage. As a result, some croplands have remained fallow due to feral swine activity and cropland that remains in production has experienced increased damage. Local farmers have experienced significant economic impacts from crop loss or replanting costs from feral swine depredation. A unified feral swine management approach is warranted to reduce associated damage. Feral swine are also polluting the waterways within this project area. A portion of the focus area includes an EPD-declared priority watershed, the Chickasawhatchee Creek, which is a 303(d) listed waterway with fecal coliform as the primary impairment. This not only contributes to water quality impairment but also the decline of aquatic species habitat. The project area is home to 4 species of threatened or endangered aquatic mussel species.

Georgia Albany Feral Swine Control Pilot Project Map

Estimated Equipment Needed

NRCS funds may be used for the equipment necessary for the pilot project. Further questions about the equipment needed, the amount, and use of the equipment should be directed to the point of contract for the project. It is expected that the following equipment will be crucial for the implementation of the project within the pilot area:

  • Monitoring cameras
    • Up to 30 cellular activated cameras to provide real time monitoring 
    • Cell service plans for all cellular activated cameras
    • Up to 30 trail cameras to provide continuous monitoring
    • SD cards for data storage
  • Bait storage
    • Grain bins or Conex containers
  • UTV and trailer
    • Access to remote locations for monitoring and removal purposes
  • Fecal coliform evaluation equipment
  • Other equipment associated with successful program implementation

Monitoring/Evaluation Requirements of Partner

Due to the new nature of the pilot program, it will be crucial to collect, monitor, and evaluate data regarding feral swine populations, agricultural damage, and environmental concerns. For this project, partners are expected to:

  • Develop and implement a monitoring and evaluation program
    • Strategies may include: Pre/post feral swine removal surveys, crop damage assessments, documenting acreages put back into production post removal, water quality evaluations of fecal coliform, natural resources protection, etc.
  • Evaluate techniques and strategies utilized to remove feral swine, both by APHIS and landowners that are participating in the project
  • Analyze population data
  • Measure feral swine local populations before, during, and after the project
    • Water quality measurements by testing watersheds for fecal coliform, specifically for feral swine DNA
    • Crop damage can be evaluated as a percentage of the crops planted

Anticipated Partnerships within the Project

It is important that the partner be able to work with the below entities, as well as state and local governments that work in the pilot areas.

  • Georgia Department of Natural Resources
    • Wildlife Resources and Law Enforcement Divisions: assist with outreach and education efforts.  Enforce the illegal transportation of feral swine.  Allow access on public managed properties is control work is deemed necessary.
    • Environmental Protection Division: provide guidance on water sample collection and analysis
  • University of Georgia Tifton Veterinary Diagnostic and Investigational Laboratory
    • Conduct microbial source tracking on water samples to determine if feral swine are the source of fecal coliform

Outreach/Education Expectations

Education and outreach will be essential aspects of the project to ensure landowners are educated on the need for removing feral swine, approved techniques, and methods for controlling feral swine populations. Partners are expected to assist with outreach and education activities in the following ways:

  • Assist APHIS with organizing a minimum of 4 workshops per year consisting of trap construction demonstrations, guidance on proper trapping and baiting strategies, feral swine sign and damage recognition, shooting strategies, state specific feral swine laws, non-lethal deterrents and camera trap placement and operation.
  • Provide a centralized location to conduct such workshops.

Additional Partner Requirements

  • Coordination between APHIS and property owners
  • Purchase and distribution of NRCS funded resources to property owners and APHIS
  • The partner must have knowledge of the local area and relationships with existing property owners
  • The partner will serve as a liaison between APHIS and property owners and will assist in developing a focal area which will include a minimum 90% landowner participation
  • The focal area will total no more than 50,000 to 100,000 contiguous acres inside the project area
  • The partner will assist with acquiring work initiation documents (WS form 12A) from property owners to allow APHIS to provide direct control activities on identified properties