A new regulation that prohibits hunting or trapping of free-ranging Eurasian boars in New York State has been formally adopted by the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). According to a statement issued to the press “the regulation is designed to ensure maximum effectiveness of DEC’s statewide eradication efforts.”
Eurasian boars were brought to North America centuries ago and wild populations numbering in the millions are now present across much of the southern U.S. In recent years, wild boar populations have been appearing in more northern states too, often as a result of escapes from enclosed shooting facilities that offer “wild boar hunts” according to DEC wildlife experts.
Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation on October 21, 2013, which immediately prohibited the importation, breeding or introduction to the wild of any Eurasian boars. Furthermore, the law prohibits possession, sale, transport or marketing of live Eurasian boars as of September 1, 2015. DEC officials believe the new law is an essential step in the state’s efforts to prevent Eurasian boars from becoming established in the wild.
However, there are already small numbers of Eurasian boars on the landscape in New York. Since 2000, wild boars have been reported in many counties across the state, and breeding in the wild has been confirmed in at least six counties (Tioga, Cortland, Onondaga, Clinton, Sullivan and Delaware) in recent years. DEC is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program to remove any Eurasian boars that are reported in New York. To date, more than 150 animals have been captured and destroyed.
“Hunters have offered to assist our efforts by hunting for boars wherever they occur, but experience has shown this to be counter-productive,” DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens told the press. “As long as swine may be pursued by hunters, there is a potential conflict with our eradication efforts. Eurasian boars often join together to form a ‘sounder,’ the name for a group of pigs that can number 20 or more individuals. Shooting individual boars as opportunities arise is ineffective as an eradication method often causes the remaining animals to disperse and be more difficult to remove.”
According to DEC: “Hunters pursuing wild boars in locations where baited traps have been established by DEC or USDA can also undermine these costly and labor-intensive capture efforts. Shooting may remove one or two animals, but the rest of the sounder scatters and rarely comes back together as a group, thereby hampering eradication efforts. In addition to prohibiting take of free-ranging swine by hunters, the new regulation prohibits anyone from disturbing traps set for wild boars or otherwise interfering with Eurasian boar eradication activities. Hunting wild boar is still allowed at enclosed hunting preserves until September 1, 2015.”
The regulation provides exceptions for state and federal wildlife agencies, law enforcement agencies, and others who are authorized by DEC to take Eurasian boar to alleviate nuisance, property damage, or threats to public health or welfare.
Anyone who observes a Eurasian boar (dead or alive) in the wild in New York should report it as soon as possible to the nearest DEC regional wildlife office or to: firstname.lastname@example.org and include “Eurasian boar” in the subject line.
Because it is sometimes difficult to distinguish a domestic pig, pot belly pig or Eurasian boar based solely on a description, reporting of all free-roaming swine is encouraged. Report the number of animals seen, whether any of them were piglets, the date, and the exact location (county, town, distance and direction from an intersection, nearest landmark, etc.). Photographs of the animals are especially helpful, so try to get a picture and include it with your report.
Full text of the regulation can be viewed on DEC’s Weekly Environmental Notice Bulletin for April 23, 2014, available online.