ALBANY - Newly proposed regulations would prohibit hunting or trapping free-ranging Eurasian boars in New York, the state Department of Environmental Conservation announced recently.
The proposal is part of the DEC's effort to eradicate the invasive animal. The department has determined that letting the public hunt wild boars is not an effective means of getting rid of them. It can help spread their population because hunters may cause larger groups to disperse.
"Eurasian boars are a great threat to natural resources, agricultural interests, private property and public safety wherever they occur," DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said in a press release. "It's important that we do all in our power to ensure that this invasive species does not become established in the wild anywhere in New York state."
A wild boar wades in mud.
(Photo — Richard Bartz, Munich Makro Freak)
Eurasian boars were brought to North America centuries ago, and wild populations numbering in the millions now occur 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.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation on Oct. 21 which immediately prohibited importing, breeding or introducing to the wild any Eurasian boars in New York. The law also prohibits the possession, sale, transport or marketing of live Eurasian boars as of Sept. 1, 2015.
However, there are already small numbers of Eurasian boars on the landscape in New York. Since 2000, they have been reported in many counties across the state, as far north as Clinton County. Breeding in the wild has been confirmed in at least six counties: Tioga, Cortland, Onondaga, Clinton, Sullivan and Delaware.
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, and to date, more than 150 animals have been captured and destroyed. However, eradication is expensive, time consuming and requires a great deal of manpower.
Hunters pursuing wild boars in locations where baited traps have been established by DEC or USDA can 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 proposed regulation would prohibit anyone from disturbing traps set for wild boars or otherwise interfering with Eurasian boar eradication activities.
Hunting wild boar can be done at hunting preserves until 2015.
The proposed regulations provide exceptions for state and federal wildlife agencies, law-enforcement agencies and others authorized by DEC to kill Eurasian boars to alleviate nuisances, property damage or threats to public health or welfare.
Martens encouraged anyone who observes a Eurasian boar, dead or alive, in the wild in New York to report it as soon as possible to the nearest DEC regional wildlife office or to email@example.com; include "Feral Swine" in the subject line. Since it is sometimes difficult to distinguish a domestic pig, pot-bellied pig or Eurasian boar based solely on a description, reporting of all feral swine is encouraged. The DEC asks people to 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 feral swine are greatly appreciated.
Text of the proposed regulation was published in the New York State Register on Dec. 11. The full text of the regulation change and instructions for submitting comments can be found at www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/34113.html. Comments on the proposed regulations can be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to Kelly Stang, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4754. Hard copies of the full text may be requested from the same address listed above.
Public comments on the proposed regulations will be accepted until Jan. 25.