Hog hunting and trapping can be fun for some, but it can be a matter of protecting a livelihood for others. Feral hogs cause loads of damage to property and crops each year. It is for this reason than landowners and farmers are always searching for new and improved feral hog control methods. Many folks have found out that the clay pigeons used by shotgunners have an adverse affect on wild pigs. In fact, printed on every carton of targets used for skeet and trap shooting is a warning that “clay pigeons” are toxic to swine. I know what you are thinking.
It would seem that broken clay targets mixed with a bait such as soured corn to control wild swine would be a good idea, but don’t do it. The departments of natural resources do not recommend this approach! The toxic materials in clay pigeons are coal tar derivatives, such as cresols and phenols, which are protoplasmic poisons. If used in a bait, any and all wild or domestic animals that consumed the clay pigeon-bait mix would be impacted. This is not an approved way to control feral hogs. It’s illegal and can hurt many of the critters people may even be trying to help.
The poisoning of hogs by the ingestion of clay targets is a horrible death that can be identified by severe hemorrhagic necrosis of the liver. These same harmful ingredients found in clay pigeons are also found in roofing tar and tar paper. They can also cause the same toxicosis in feral hogs. Poisonings of this type have been associated with domestic hogs in confined areas, but researchers are not aware of any cases diagnosed in wild hogs. I’m sure it has happened when feral hogs picked up something dumped out in a pasture, creek or gully. After all, they will eat anything.
By the way, the use of clay pigeons on skeet and trap ranges has never been linked with problems in wildlife. However, because people are now hearing that ingredients found in clay pigeons can be fatal to hogs, it is important to get accurate information out. The distinctive liver lesions associated with clay pigeon toxicosis are readily recognized upon examination by a diagnostician. Because of this, wildlife experts suspect that the lack of reported cases in wildlife is evidence that if clay pigeon poisoning occurs, it is extremely rare. Do not do it on purpose.
In closing, feral hogs are non-native, destructive creatures. They are hard to find and feral hog control is difficult. Legal hog hunting and hog trapping can be effective ways to deter them from your area as well as limit local population growth. Researchers are currently working on feral hog control baits that can be safely used to target feral hogs through proper delivery systems. I believe they will be on the market in less than two years. Until then, go hog hunting!