BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A new study by the LSU AgCenter says feral hogs cost Louisiana farmers more than $74 million in crop losses and other damage in 2013.

AgCenter economist Shaun Tanger, who's been gathering data from farmers about feral hog activity for more than a year, says the animals caused about $53 million in damage to crops and an additional $21 million in non-production losses.

Tanger says Louisiana's feral hog population is estimated at half a million, with heavy concentrations in the south-central and northeastern regions of the state.

The hogs root up and eat crops, damage farm equipment and spread diseases to livestock and wildlife.

The most effective way to control feral hogs is trapping and killing them. AgCenter scientists are studying alternatives, such as a sodium nitrite-based bait.

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