Swine aren't so fine: New York's pig problem

Mike RaykoviczIn October 2012, one of my trail cameras showed a feral pig at my treestand site in Tioga County. In the spring of 2013 while turkey hunting I heard a bunch of them oinking and squealing somewhere in the woods not too far in front of me. To me, there was little doubt we had pigs in our neck of the woods and as far as I was concerned that wasn’t good.

It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out these pigs were likely escapees from a game farm just over the Pennsylvania border. As the crow flies, the game farm was less than two miles from the Tioga County farm I hunt and it contained more exotic animals than just pigs.

Because these wild pigs pose a threat to agricultural products and natural resources, New York has recently instituted an Eurasian boar eradication program. Currently, it is illegal to import, breed or introduce to the wild any Eurasian boars. Furthermore, as of Sept. 1, 2015, it will be illegal to possess, sell, transport or market live Eurasian boars in New York state.

To prevent Eurasian boars from becoming established in New York State the DEC has begun a trapping program, but it is time consuming and expensive. The agency can’t just declare war on the porcine invaders because pigs are smart, and although many hunters have offered to augment the DEC’s efforts by hunting the critters, the DEC prefers that they don’t. Experience has shown hunting wild pigs is counter-productive and shooting individual boars as opportunities arise is ineffective as an eradication method. Once pigs are shot at or disturbed it often causes the remaining animals to disperse and be more difficult to remove. Shooting may remove one or two animals but the rest of the group scatters and rarely comes back together as a unit.

Rather than shooting any wild pig they, see hunters are asked to report their sightings to the DEC. Since it is sometimes difficult to distinguish a domestic pig, pot-bellied pig or Eurasian boar based solely on a description, the DEC is encouraging anyone who sees one to report it and to supply a photo if possible. Keep in mind it’s important to make note of the number of animals seen, whether any of them were piglets, the date, and the exact location including the county, town, distance and direction from an intersection, and the nearest landmark.   

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