Researchers are also looking at a figure-8 trap for areas where multiple groups of pigs come in at different times of the night. Each oval of the figure-8 would have a separate baiting area and a separate trigger, so pigs coming in later would not be closed out of the trap.

Telemetry, placing collars on wild pigs, also may help improve trapping techniques. The collars follow pig movements and increase understanding of travel and feeding patterns.

Trappers have a market for live hogs, Higginbotham says. “We average selling 80,000 pigs to buyers every year. A big pig will bring 40 cents a pound.” Trapped pigs are slaughtered and inspected by the USDA.

No toxicants are currently permitted for hog control in Texas, but that may change, he says. “(Researchers) are evaluating sodium nitrate as a toxicant for wild pigs. The delivery system is the key.”

That key is a heavy hopper with a lid that hogs can lift with their snouts. “When the hogs back away, the lid slams shut,” denying access to non-target species. “Pre-baiting is necessary.” 

Higginbotham says one potential sticking point is that raccoons may have access to the feeders.

 “Pigs are very susceptible to sodium nitrate, but it is very humane.  The pigs just go to sleep and don’t wake up. We see a good potential to get this registered by 2015. Every new tool we get will help.”