Researchers at the University of Georgia have joined a federal program to combat feral hogs in southwest Georgia, according to a UGA Today news release.
The Feral Swine Eradication and Control Pilot Program will give $1.5 million to the three-year project in Georgia. The program allocates $75 million to 20 projects in areas across the U.S. affected by wild pigs, according to the release.
The UGA Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources received a sub-award of the grant — which was established through the 2018 Farm Bill — from the Flint River Soil and Water Conservation District. The Flint River district was awarded a grant by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said Kristen Morales, the communications director of the Warnell School, in an email to The Red & Black.
Feral pigs have no natural predator in the U.S. and cause more than $150 million in damage each year to agricultural areas in Georgia. The counties in the pilot program — Calhoun, Baker, Terrell and Dougherty counties — are more than 50% agricultural and produce more than $2 billion in goods each year, according to the release.
The program has three aspects: removing wild pigs by the USDA Animal and Plant Health and Inspection Service, restoration efforts through the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and assistance to landowners through partner agencies, according to the release. Researchers from Warnell will partner with the Jones Center at Ichauway in Newton to survey populations, analyze data, monitor water quality, provide education and outreach workshops and native species recovery.
“Feral swine can cause significant damage to crops and grazing lands, while also impacting the health of our natural resources,” said Terrance Rudolph, a state conservationist for the USDA NRSC, according to the release. “By collaborating with our partners nationally and here in Georgia, our hope is to control this invasive species — improving operations for farmers while also protecting our natural resources for the future.”
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Warnell School received a $1.3 million award from USDA. This award was given to Flint River Soil and Water Conservation District which, in turn, gave a smaller sum of money to Warnell. The Red & Black regrets this error, and it has since been fixed.