Green Guide

Officials plan to cull swine at Arizona wildlife refuge

Posted 4:27 p.m. Tuesday
Updated 4:29 p.m. Tuesday

— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has submitted a plan to eliminate feral pigs at a wildlife refuge near the Arizona-California border.

The agency said the hogs within Havasu National Wildlife Refuge threaten native wildlife, natural habitats and public safety, Today's News-Herald reported ( ).

"Feral hogs create extensive damage to habitat by rooting for food," Brenda Zaun, a Fish and Wildlife Service biologist, said in a statement. "Our biggest concern is for public safety. These invasive swine carry a host of diseases including leptospirosis, salmonella and E-coli, which could pose threats to human health when the feral hogs stray into our gardens and agricultural fields."

The Fish and Wildlife Service plan says feral swine destroy nests and pose a significant threat to marsh birds, including Yuma's Ridgeway's rail and the California black rail. The agency is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has authority over feral pigs throughout the country.

Officials will target areas with the highest density of swine, including marshes, forests and islands within Topock Marsh and Topock Gorge, according to the plan. The swine will be culled by aerial shooting from a helicopter, ground shooting and trapping.

The agencies will locate the pigs using motion-sensor trail cameras and night vision and infrared equipment. They also plan to use "Judas pigs" — that is, wild hogs captured and fitted with radio transmitters before being released back into the refuge. The Judas pigs will lead USDA and Fish and Wildlife Service agents to larger groups of feral swine.

The Fish and Wildlife Service will accept written comments on the plan until Nov. 10.


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