HILO » Five Hawaii island farmers have applied for a federal conservation pilot program aimed at managing feral pigs.
The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service announced in April that Hawaii and the U.S. territory of Guam would join Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi in the pilot program.
USDA official Shirley Nakamura said 12 people, including five from Hawaii County and seven from Guam, have signed up for the program.
“Our field offices are in the process of ranking the applications that were received,” she wrote in an email Wednesday. “We expect to select applications for funding sometime next week.”
Participants who are selected for the program will monitor feral swine damage over at least a three-year period. They will have to restore damage to natural resources and experiment with ways to control the animals.
“Feral swine is a problem on all the islands in the state,” Nakamura wrote. “Hawaii County was selected because of the extensive pig damage on the island, the interest expressed by a number of farmers in Hawaii County who are trying to address the problem, and the possibility of success for this pilot project.”
The program, which is being funded by the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, is designed to determine the impacts of feral pigs on natural resources and evaluate the effectiveness of practices used to reduce the impacts.
In 2007 a joint study by the USDA and the County of Hawaii found that disease was widespread in feral pigs on the Big Island. Of the 268 pigs tested for disease in the study, 23 tested positive for swine brucellosis, and 44 tested positive for pseudorabies.