Epidemic Alert: Feral Hogs Tearing Up New York Countryside

Epidemic Alert: Feral Hogs Tearing Up New York Countryside
Feral hogs are caught on a trail camera at a Peru, N.Y., apple orchard. (Photo from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation)

The pigs are invading New York! It may sound like the lamest monster movie tagline ever, but the feral hog pandemic that was previously localized to the South has made its way to the Empire State, and it spells destruction for state agriculture.


The New York Times has reported that feral hogs have made their way into Champlain County, New York, and like their cousins down in Dixie, these porkers are causing huge problems.



For example, Bob Rulf, an 82-year-old farmer, found his crops severely damaged, and thinking it was a deer problem, dispatched a few hunters to take care of it. What they found was even more of a nightmare.

"They eat everything," said wildlife biologist Ed Reed. "They'll eat the understory in a forest and dig up plants by rooting the ground for insects and roots. They compete with wildlife for food. They're the most destructive mammal out there."


Now, state wildlife officials are weighing their options in dispatching the hogs, from traps to sterilization, and even popping pigs from choppers.


"There's a real sense of urgency," Reed told reporters. "Once the pigs get established, they are very difficult to eradicate completely."

Officials have tried using traps filled with all manners of pig bait -- donuts, dried gelatin powder and dried corn, for example -- but have found the pigs tend to crowd in a corner and will climb on one another to escape. Even circular traps have proved ineffective, catching only three pigs last year.

The Times are reporting that New York's usually strict hunting laws have been relaxed a bit for the porkers; the New York Department of Environmental Conservation is advising hunters to "shoot and keep feral swine at any time and in any number."

Sounds like open season for makin' bacon to us.

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