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Feral Swine: Bad News for New York

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iStock_000009274926_boar_400k-out-of-500k-used_opt.pngMany people are aware of the feral swine problem in southern states like Texas and Florida, but these animals are also a growing problem in New York. Also called feral pigs, feral hogs, wild boar, wild hogs, razorbacks, Eurasian boar and Russian boar, feral swine are not native to New York and are a harmful and destructive invasive species.

Feral swine can include domestic pigs or “pet” pigs that have been released or escaped captivity and “gone wild,” wild boar (native to Eurasia) that escaped from fenced shooting enclosures, or a hybrid of domestic pigs and wild boar. Their color and size can be quite variable. They can be black, brown, gray, red, tan or cream colored. They can be belted (a band of color across the shoulders) or have color patterns like spots or stripes. Piglets often have stripes that fade or disappear as they get older.

Feral swine are omnivorous and will eat just about anything. Feral swine are also very adaptable and can live just about anywhere as long as they have access to water. They breed early and often. If weather is good and food is plentiful, feral swine can breed as early as 6-10 months of age, can breed twice a year and their litter size averages 6-8, although litters as large as 10-12 have been reported. As a result, a feral swine population could easily double in a year.

New York is currently reviewing strategies for preventing the establishment and spread of feral swine on the landscape. If you see any feral swine in NY, please report them to the nearest DEC regional wildlife office or e-mail us at fwwildlf@gw.dec.state.ny.us . Please report the number of swine seen, whether any of them were piglets, the date, and the exact location (county, town, distance and direction from an intersection, nearest landmark). Although some people may think of these as “trophy” animals to hunt, the consequences of feral swine in New York would be devastating to deer and turkey, other native wildlife and the environment. Please help prevent this from happening!

Feral swine have tremendous negative impacts on native wildlife as well as native plants, livestock, agriculture and humans:

Feral swine:

  • Can locally decimate the fall acorn crop, leaving virtually none for native wildlife such as bear, turkey, white-tailed deer, squirrel and waterfowl.
  • Disturb and prey on ground-nesting birds (like turkey and grouse) and their eggs which may decrease game bird populations.
  • Will kill and eat fawns and young domestic livestock.
  • Prey on reptiles and amphibians (such as snakes, lizards, frogs and salamanders) and their eggs which may impact these populations.
  • Will eat almost any agricultural crop as well as tree seeds and seedlings.
  • Tear up lawns and golf courses to eat the tender roots, grubs and worms.
  • Wallow in wet areas where they destroy native vegetation, cause erosion, and negatively affect water quality.
  • Have razor sharp tusks and can be aggressive toward humans, pets and livestock.
  • Can carry and transmit at least 30 diseases including swine brucellosis, E. coli, trichinosis, and pseudorabies to native wildlife, livestock, pets and humans. Pseudorabies, if transmitted to domestic swine, can decimate NY’s pork industry.

Photo: © Laurie L. Snidow

Regulations in red are new this year.

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