STILLWATER, Okla. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it is awarding more than $1.04 Million to fund 2 pilot projects to control feral swine in Oklahoma and nine other states across the country.
These projects are part of the Feral Swine Eradication and Control Pilot Program (FSCP) – a joint effort between USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to help address the threat that feral swine pose to agriculture, ecosystems and human and animal health.
“Feral swine cause significant damage to crop and grazing lands, while also impacting the health of our natural resources,” said NRCS State Conservationist Gary O’Neill. “By collaborating with our partners nationally and here in Oklahoma, our hope is to control and eradicate this invasive species – improving operations for farmers while also protecting our natural resources for the future.”
NRCS and APHIS are working with Oklahoma Conservation Commission (OCC) on 2 pilot projects in Oklahoma – Kay County and Western Red River (Harmon, Jackson, Tillman, Cotton Counties). The Red River project area is a multi-state effort in conjunction with partners in Texas to create a “feral swine free zone” along the Red River.
The OCC will work through local conservation districts in the pilot areas to contact landowners to gather damage assessments, schedule access for USDA-APHIS trappers, pre-bait areas for trapping and monitor trapping sites. The Districts will also provide outreach to all county residents as to the need for controlling feral swine populations and educate agricultural producers about programs available to assist with damage repair. OCC will also be conducting water quality testing with hopes of removal some impaired waterbodies from the 303(d) list.
NRCS, APHIS and the Oklahoma Technical Agriculture Committee worked together to define the critical areas to be considered for projects within the state. The Oklahoma pilot project runs from 2020 to 2023. At the end of the project period, it is the agency’s goal to have a self-sustaining, feral swine control program administered by each of the participating Conservation Districts and an opportunity to expand efforts to other areas.
NRCS is awarding more than $16.7 million this year for feral swine pilot projects in select areas of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas. The funding limit for a single award is $1.5 million. Awardees are required to provide at least 25 percent of the partnership agreement budget as a match to NRCS funding. APHIS is providing $23.3 million this year to the Wildlife Services programs located in the pilot projects states.
The 2018 Farm Bill provides $75 million for the Feral Swine Eradication and Control Pilot Program. These funds are for the life of the farm bill and divided evenly between NRCS and APHIS.
Additional information on feral swine control work in the state can be found at http://nrcs.usda.gov/fscp. The Oklahoma NRCS point of contact is Steve Glasgow, State Resource Conservationist.
–USDA NRCS Oklahoma
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