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Feral Swine Eradication Trapping Demonstration Nets a lot of Interest

Lauren Buxton,a Wildlife Biologist for APHIS, demonstrates a feral swine trapHampton, South Carolina, March 19, 2022—The Hampton County Conservation District (SWCD) hosted a hosted a trapping demonstration at Lake Warren State Park in Hampton, Saturday, as part of the Feral Swine Eradication and Control Pilot Program (FSCP).

Approximately 138,000 feral pigs roam in South Carolina, causing millions of dollars in economic and ecological impacts on private and public lands. Additionally, feral pigs spread disease to livestock and potentially humans. The program’s goal is to eradicate the invasive animals and to restore natural habitats.

Members of the USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and the Hampton, Jasper and Newberry Soil and Water Conservation Districts, the University of Georgia Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, Clemson Cooperative Extension, and South Carolina Department of Natural Resources make up the FSCP partnership. They conduct educational workshops, work on trapping and removing the animals, assess the damage and will assist landowners by providing habitat restoration funding through NRCS.

Austin Jackson, a producer in Aiken County, drove more than 90 minutes to attend the trapping demonstration.

“For us it's one of the largest concerns we have whenever consider which crops to grow,” Jackson said. It's become so much of a problem that we have to rethink about what we're planting, when we're planting it and then what fields we choose to plant it.”

Damage from feral pigs adversely affect production, which in turn causes more problems, Jackson said. It effects crop insurance because it lowers a producer’s Actual Production History (APH). A lower APH limits a farmer’s access to insurance values.

Jackson has built his own makeshift traps, but it is very expensive and labor-intensive. He said he wanted to learn more about trapping and what assistance might be available to address the issue.

“If it's not your problem today it will be your problem tomorrow,” Jackson added.

In South Carolina, APHIS traps and removes animals, netting over 1,600 since 2020. These trappings take place on private lands owned by those enrolled in the pilot program. Enrollment is voluntary, free, and those interested in more information, assistance, or to sign up can contact their local NRCS office or Soil and Water Conservation District to sign up.photo of Lauren Buxton,a Wildlife Biologist for APHIS, demonstrates a feral swine trap

Trapping efforts will continue through Fall 2023 and likely beyond.

Producers like Jackson are optimistic about the program and working with the agencies.

“I appreciate what the researchers do, what the NRCS does, what the USDA has done because I think it's another step in the process to fix the problem; it’s a step in the right direction.”

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