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Warning labels, schmarning labels

Sid Miller, ladies and gentlemen, addressing the concerns of rancher Bruce Hunnicutt about the use of poison to try to control the feral hog population.

Hunnicutt, 58, operates a hog hunting business on 30,000 acres — he owns 600 and leases another 24,000 — in Northeast Texas. He regularly sends the meat of the pigs they kill home with his clients.

When he couldn’t find answers online, he called the agriculture department to get more information. To his surprise, he got a return call from Commissioner Sid Miller, who assured Hunnicutt the poison would be safe to humans and other wildlife, and directed him to his Facebook page for more information on the poison that’s marketed under the name Kaput.

When Hunnicutt found the product’s label, he was so alarmed he called his state representative.

“That label didn’t look anything like what the man [Miller] told me on the phone —I thought, ‘My god, that can’t be right — people can’t eat this,’ ” he said. “How in the world can you put something in the human food chain that can kill somebody, to kill an animal that people eat?”

When he traveled to Austin to meet with Rep. Gary VanDeaver, he got the chance to address Miller in person.

In the March 3 meeting set up by VanDeaver’s office, which was recorded with Miller’s permission, the commissioner responded to some of Hunnicutt’s safety concerns by saying that his agency could change the poison’s federally approved label to eliminate an important warning — as well as a requirement to bury the carcasses of poisoned hogs, which Miller said simply wasn’t “doable.”

In the recording, which Hunnicutt provided to The Texas Tribune, Hunnicutt says: “That product label right there says ‘all animals’ … every one of them has to be recovered and put 18 inches under the ground. How you going to do that? … How you going to find all of them, Mr. Miller?”

“I guess we should take that off the label, it’s not doable,” Miller says. “We’ll take it off.”

Hunnicutt then referred to the label’s warnings about the dangers of the poison to other wildlife and domesticated animals.

“Animals that feed on those carcasses are going to die. It can kill them,” he told Miller. “Whether you say it or not, the label says it will.”

Miller responded: “We can adjust that too.”

The meeting lasted about 30 minutes, growing increasingly tense, before Miller finally stood up and walked out.

“It’s like he wasn’t listening to me, he had his mind made up, he had his little dog and pony show he’s been putting on this whole time,” Hunnicutt said.

See here for the background. I mean, who even reads warning labels, am I right? They can say whatever you want them to, no one will be the wiser. I have no idea how ol’ Sid didn’t get picked to be Trump’s ag secretary. They’re two unregulated peas in a pod. The Press has more.

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4 Comments

  1. Flypusher says:

    This is what scientific illiteracy will get you. Like you I’m shocked that Trump hadn’t tapped Miller’s reality denying skills.

  2. voter_worker says:

    This is yet another story that makes me wonder why science hasn’t invented a way to safely sterilize the critters. If they can be poisoned with treated food why can’t they be sterilized in a similar fashion? Wouldn’t this be a good project for A&M?

  3. Robbie Westmoreland says:

    Well, with media watchdogs that add 600 acres to 24,000 acres and get 30,000, maybe it’s inevitable that some of this sort of thing will go on?

  4. Flypusher says:

    “This is yet another story that makes me wonder why science hasn’t invented a way to safely sterilize the critters. If they can be poisoned with treated food why can’t they be sterilized in a similar fashion? Wouldn’t this be a good project for A&M?”

    It’s worth researching, but you’re going to run into some of the same obstacles you have in trying to poison them. If you’re feeding them the equivalent of the Pill, they’d have to get continuous doses, and there’d be the issue of the environmental effects of all those hormones in the food not eaten by pigs, as they probably wouldn’t be swine-specific in their effects. Anything that would sterilize them in one shot would be nasty toxic (and I can’t think of anything that would do that without killing off the top of my head). Engineering viruses or introducing predators is also fraught with unintended consequences. Nature eventually corrects imbalances, although it won’t necessarily balance the way humans would prefer.