Flint River SWCD awarded funding for feral swine project
The Flint River Soil and Water Conservation District (FRSWCD) has been awarded $1.5 million for a three-year project in the Feral Swine Eradication and Control Pilot Program in the Albany project area. The Albany project area includes parts of Calhoun, Baker, Terrell, and Dougherty Counties.
In the 2018 farm bill, the Feral Swine Eradication and Control Pilot Program was established to respond to the threat that feral swine pose to agriculture, native ecosystems, and human and animal health.
In Georgia alone, feral swine cause upward of $150 million in damage each year. The pilot program, which is jointly administered by USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Animal and Plant Health and Inspection Service (APHIS) will award $75 million from the 2018 Farm Bill towards targeted areas where feral swine have been identified as a threat.
The Pilot Project has three primary components, including feral swine removal which will be conducted by APHIS, restoration efforts supported by NRCS and direct landowner and producer assistance and coordination from non-federal partners.
“Farmers and landowners in our area are feeling the impact of a growing destructive feral swine population daily, not to mention the natural resource concerns” said Marty McLendon, chairman of the FRSWCD. “With the district’s proven record of launching and managing successful projects with federal and non-federal partners and landowners that address natural resource concerns in our area, this project was a natural fit for us.”
The project area includes the Flint River and its tributaries, an important habitat for several native species including bobwhite quail, gopher tortoise, and four species of threatened or endangered aquatic mussels, as well as a refuge for growing feral swine populations.
The area is also more than 50% agricultural. Southwest Georgia is the hub of agriculture in the state, with a farm gate value of the region reaching $2 billion annually. Farmers have been plagued feral swine, which cause destruction to crops, infrastructure, and areas near bodies of water. Forestry, pecan production, and bobwhite quail preserves and commercial operations also suffer from feral swine damage.
The project area also includes Chickasawhatchee Wildlife Management Area, managed by the Department of Natural Resources.
The FRSWCD will work closely with APHIS in working directly with landowners on feral swine control outreach and efforts. Effective control requires a combination of methods, including surveillance cameras, corral traps, and aerial operations. And feral swine don’t recognize property or county lines, meaning collaborative approaches are imperative for successful feral swine control.
The District will also work with NRCS through a partnership agreement and in implementing restoration to critical areas.