Feral hogs aren’t just for the south anymore; New York state is now officially worried about wild boar, too. I used to think that wild boar were a good example of an ecosystem problem hunters could help solve. Turns out, they’re the ones causing it by releasing hogs to shoot them for fun.
Feral pigs or wild hogs can come from many sources: abandoned pets, escaped livestock or even pigs from Europe released long ago. But, wildlife biologists around the country blame the upsurge in the last two decades on releases by hunters. Hunters might release or relocate them on purpose to hunt or the razorbacks may be escapees from canned hunting operations.
New York now has hogs, mainly in three counties (Tioga, Cortland and Onondaga) that border yahoo hunting state Pennsylvania. The USDA report says “Intentional releases of swine by hunters interested in pursuing them in New York, escape of swine from shooting preserves, and breeding facilities are factors that need to be considered if the eradication efforts in the state were to be successful.” The report says New York boars probably cross the border from Pennsylvania, which has confirmed wild hog populations and a particular canned hunt operation.
Coincidentally, there is a shooting preserve with feral swine located in Pennsylvania that shares a property boundary with the New York border. The New York properties that we trapped and that reported feral swine damage are also adjacent to the state border. Shooting preserves can be a source of feral swine populations that threaten natural resources, agriculture, human health and safety, and property.
That pretty well describes the Tioga Boar Hunting Preserve in Tioga, PA. They describe themselves as “the largest in the east, with hundreds of acres for you to hunt on, and a past record of the finest trophies ever taken anywhere!!” and “just across the upstate New York border.” They charge $500-$900 to hunt a boar, depending on its size (plus $85 per person lodging, $100 butchering fee (optional) and 2% credit card surcharge).
I called Tioga Boar Hunting Preserve and asked about being cited–though not specifically in the report. “That’s old. From two years ago. If you post something like that on your site, you’ll probably be hearing from our lawyer we have working on it,” said the man who answered the phone but refused to give his name. “It probably would be easier for you not to post something like that.” Golly, that’s intimidating.
“The only reason they put us in the report is we’ve been here since 1966 and everyone knows about us,” he said. The preserve’s boars are all tagged and that “there hasn’t been a report of a boar around here.” He blamed reports of released boars on another hunting preserve near Pittsburgh that released its animals when it closed.
The report, released Monday, used data from a survey and trapping in 2010.
The problem is that hogs damage crops, infect cows and pigs with disease, eat wildlife and food that should go to wildlife, and could potentially charge people. (They get to be huge.) In New York, the rare Blanding’s turtle (Emydoidea blandingii) could suffer from hogs eating the animals or destroying their habitat.
The Missouri Department of Conservation says that its hogs have roamed parts of their state “since the open range days” but just got out of hand in the 1990s because hunting guides would release hogs to promote hunting and the population got out of control. “It is believed that the biggest contribution to feral hog population expansion is the illegal release of feral hogs for the purpose of sport hunting,” says Rex Martensen, their field programs coordinator in a video. Hunting alone won’t get rid of the population, either.
Texas has a big problem with wild hogs, too–but not so big that they would only approve a plan that hog hunters like, , according to Wildlife Management Pro. The plan was hailed as “still giving hunters an opportunity to bag a boar trophy worth bragging rites.” The rules allow hunters to trap wild pigs and hold them in a trailer for a week before sending them to slaughter or to an approved canned hunt facility with fences at least five feet high. The swine form of Brucellosis has been confirmed in 19 cattle herds. Let’s contrast the tolerance of wild hogs to that of bison outside Yellowstone.
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