Pictured here is one of the big, wild hogs that was recently taken in Peru. The hogs feed primarily at night. The cinderblock provides some perspective on the size of the animal. Brian Thew, one of the hog hunters explained, “The meat is unbelievable, it is really lean. DEC tested it for disease, and it was deemed safe, so we had a big, pig roast!”
On Jan. 14, 2010, I was in Albany to attend a Roundtable Meeting with the NYSDEC, to discuss a wide range of sportsman’s concerns and issues.
Representatives from over 40 different sportsmen’s organizations and conservation councils including NYS Bass, Trout Unlimited, Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, NYS Houndsmen, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Safari Club International and others were in attendance.
At the meeting, DEC administrators covered a variety of issues such as license fees, the distribution of Conservation Fund monies, agency staffing concerns, special projects, hatchery rehabilitation projects, law enforcement initiatives, DEC Conservation Camp programs, Archery in the Schools, the importance of mentoring programs and much more.
However, the most alarming topic concerned the spread of a dangerous, new invasive species in New York, the feral swine.
At the time, wild hogs had already been discovered in over 16 New York counties, primarily in the southern tier. Although the origins of the swine in the Southern Tier were undetermined, they were known to have destroyed agricultural crops, ravaged the mast crop, killed fawns and endangered many species of birds, particularly ground nesters such as wild turkeys.
DEC biologists implored attendees to enlist the fellow sportsmen in the effort to control the hogs, before their populations became unmanageable, as they already are, in many other states.
In many southern states, feral swine have taken over, and displaced many native species. The porkers are believed to have descended from wild boar stock, and their physical appearance is closer to wild boar than to domestic pigs. There is nothing cute about them.
Populations can multiply quickly, as they can produce a litter every 4 months, with anywhere from 10 to 15 piglets.
Wherever they have become established, feral swine have caused incredible environmental impacts, by damaging crops, destroying native plants, reducing forest regeneration and competing with native species for food and territory.
Ten years ago, the loss and damage to agriculture from feral swine was estimated to be greater than $800 million in the US. In addition, feral swine have been known to prey on lambs, goat kids, and calves in Texas and Australia. In other states feral swine have been known to spread disease to livestock.
Feral Hogs can now be found in every state in the country, and populations are at epidemic proportions in Texas, Florida, California and Hawaii. Recently, in efforts to control the invasives, the state of Texas took the extraordinary measure of allowing hunters to shoot feral hogs from helicopters.
And this little piggy goes…..
Despite introduction into the southern tier, there were few concerns that wild swine would invade the Adirondacks. It had been attempted before, in 1902, when Russian boar were introduced to a large hunting preserve near Tupper Lake, along with elk, Sitka deer and other exotic species.
Although the initial stock was contained within a 1,000 acre game fence, wild boar has never been able to establish a permanent population in the North Country.
However, it appears they are trying to, according to Bob Rulf, the owner of Rulf’s Orchards on the Bear Swamp Road in Peru.
“We first noticed them about three years ago,” Mr. Rulf recently explained. “I’m very upset, they cause a lot of damage! They eat the seed corn, pumpkins, apples, and they root up everything. We’ve lost over $20,000, and it’s not covered by our insurance.”
DEC wildlife biologists estimate there are about 30 wild pigs in a territory of about two to three square miles near Bear Swamp Road in Peru.
“Fortunately, we got nuisance permits from the DEC, so that hunters can help us get rid of them.” Mr. Rulf continued, “DEC has already trapped three, and three have been shot. A couple have also been hit by cars.”
According to Brian Thew of Morrisonville, blood tests indicate the big pigs are 100 percent Russian Boar. Thew is one of several hunters, who have been attempting to help eradicate the hogs.
“We were hunting them every night, and we worked them hard!” he explained, “But they are fast and smart! There are already three generations, with small 15-20-pound pigs, 150-170-pound hogs and we’ve seen one older boar that had to be over 400 pounds.”
Currently, DEC is continuing their efforts to trap the pigs, and hunters hope to be in the fields as often as possible. In the ongoing battle, permitted hunters are allowed to bait the pigs, and to utilize lights, as well as laser scopes to hunt them.
Because feral hogs have such destructive potential, the DEC will usually provide hunters with permits to kill the wild pigs on the spot. DEC's goal is to eradicate feral swine from the state's landscape. In New York, people with a small game license may shoot and keep feral swine at any time and in any number. All other hunting laws and firearms regulations are still in effect when shooting feral swine.
The DEC asks those who see the animals to report their sightings through email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone to the nearest regional wildlife office. Region 5's headquarters in Ray Brook can be reached at 897-1200.
Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at email@example.com.