Niagara Gazette

Columns

November 18, 2013

CONFER: Feral hogs should be fair game for farmers, hunters

Niagara Gazette — Feral hogs – wild free-roaming pigs – are the latest in a never-ending series of invasive species having a huge impact on our economy and environment.

Farms in the South and West have been especially besieged by the swine, where their insatiable appetites and scavenging ways account for $1.5 billion in agricultural damage every year.

Their pillaging is not limited to crops as they are altering forests at an unprecedented pace, destroying nutrient-rich topsoil (which results in erosion) while killing and consuming saplings, precious wildflowers and ground dwelling birds.

They’re virtually uncontrollable as they can have litters of up to eight piglets several times a year.

And they’re coming to a neighborhood near you.

Over the past half-dozen years feral hogs have made a home in the Empire State. So far, they have been found to maintain breeding populations in six New York counties, mostly in the central portion of the state. They have also made themselves known elsewhere, including a well-publicized sighting in Allegany State Park in 2009 and incidental appearances throughout Western New York. My trail camera photographed one in the wilds of Allegany County this fall.

The state, for the most part, has been trying to stop them. The Department of Environmental Conservation, working in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has orchestrated numerous roundups and exterminations in an attempt to suppress the invasion.

The state legislature even did well for itself in passing a bill this year banning the importation, sale and transfer of Eurasian boars in New York. The law essentially brings to an end to canned hunts on game preserves for these beasts. Those are places from which boars were escaping into the wild.

While the D.E.C. does not officially endorse feral hogs as a dedicated target species, it has allowed, even encouraged, hunters to eradicate any feral hogs that they see in the field while hunting other wild game.

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