Baldwin County has one of three watershed areas in Alabama where the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will use $3.5 million from the 2018 Farm Bill to try and get feral hog populations under control. Two arms of the USDA — Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) — will administer the program in eight states, where a total of $75 million will be spent.
“In order for each individual state to get that slice of the pie you have to put in proposals,” Alabama USDA APHIS Division Supervisor Leif Stephens said. “We worked with our NRCS partners here within Alabama and came up with basically three pilot project proposals that are representative of watersheds. Those three areas, one’s in the Dothan area, another area is in Baldwin County and the Bay Minette area and the third area is near Livingston in Sumter County.”
According to Stephens, who is based in Auburn, his APHIS team will handle removing animals from these areas to try and curb damage done to farms and lawns.
“Our side of the coin is providing expertise and manpower within these watersheds to control pigs,” Stephens said. “NRCS’s side is to provide an actual cost-share to landowners that are in and around these watersheds that will hopefully help control pigs in the long term. We’re basically providing the boots on the ground whereas NRCS is providing potential cost shares with the landowners for future control efforts.”
Feral hogs live in the watersheds, Stephens said, and they become a nuisance for nearby farms and homes.
“The reason we picked those three areas is that we feel like that we can make a significant reduction of damages in these watersheds due to the type of habitat,” he said. “If you look at these watersheds from an aerial image you can see that the watershed in and of itself is near agriculture, which is going to be somewhat limiting to other swine coming in from adjacent habitats. If you are able to control swine in these watersheds, it’ll greatly help out the farmers that have farmland next to these watersheds.”
During the project, Stephens and his staff will be looking for techniques that are working to limit the populations with hopes to implement them over wider areas in the future.
“Hopefully, if all goes well, the adjacent watersheds that we are proposing to work in would also be included with this pilot project,” he said. “But we’ve got to start controlling pigs and see how long it will take to get the population under control.”
The APHIS portion of the $3.5 million is just for the first year of the project.
“We’re getting ours as a one-time shot,” Stephens said. “We would be able to apply for more money maybe a couple of years down the road. But right now, we’re getting our lump-sum money so we can get people on the ground, equipment and get the operation started.”
Other states in the program are Florida, Mississippi, Georgia, Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.
It looks like you are opening this page from the Facebook App. This article needs to be opened in the browser.
iOS: Tap the three dots in the top right, then tap on "Open in Safari".
Android: Tap the Settings icon (it looks like three horizontal lines), then tap App Settings, then toggle the "Open links externally" setting to On (it should turn from gray to blue).