NY seeks stop to wild hogs; may ban captive hunts
In this Aug. 24, 2011 photo, feral hogs walk in a holding pen at Easton View Outfitters …
In this Aug. 24, 2011 photo, a feral hog walks in a holding pen at Easton View Outfitters …
VALLEY FALLS, N.Y. (AP) — Wildlife officials in New York may ban captive boar hunts as they try to curb a growing feral hog population before it gets as bad as it is in Southern states, where roaming droves have devastated crops and wildlife habitat with their rooting, wallowing and voracious foraging.
Feral swine are breeding in three counties in central New York, according to a federal study done last year with funding from New York’s Invasive Species Council. The wild population statewide is likely in the hundreds , said Gordon Batcheller, head of the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s Bureau of Wildlife.
That’s small compared with Texas, where biologists estimate the feral hog population at around 2 million, but Batcheller said any number is bad because they’re certain to multiply. Damage becomes more noticeable when the population reaches the thousands and the hogs stake out home territories rather than wandering widely.
Eurasian wild boars have become popular on private hunting ranches throughout the U.S. in recent years as an addition to deer and elk. Ranch owners deny they’re the source of the free-roaming pigs, but Patrick Rusz, director of wildlife programs for the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy, said the animals started showing up in the wild soon after hunting preserves began importing them. Their distribution is clustered near preserves, he added.
“We’re not talking about Porky Pig getting loose from the farm,” Rusz said. “These are Russian wild boars. Those animals are Houdini-like escape artists and they breed readily in the wild. We’ve had domestic pigs for centuries and never had a feral hog problem until the game ranches started bringing these in.” READ MORE: