Study to assess wild hogs in Pennsylvania - as published in the Pennsylvania Outdoor News - November 10, 2006
University Park PA: State, federal and private groups are collaborating to assess the seriousness of Pennsylvania's wild hog situation. Starting in November 2006, a team from the Wildlife Services Division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture 's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service will collect feral hogs in three areas of the state by trapping and shooting, and Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture technicians will remove blood and tissue samples from the animals to be tested for infectious diseases. Pennsylvania Game Commission has issues reports documenting that wild hogs are living in 11 counties and breeding in at least two of these.
From the PGC feral hog report:
- Feral swine are omnivorous, but mast makes up a large part of their diet, when it is available. Where feral swine are found, their consumption of acorns reduces the amount left for deer, turkeys, and other native species.
- Hogs killing wild turkeys and destroying their nest sites may be a growing problem.
- Reports of free-ranging feral swine were first documented in Somerset County in 1993.
- Feral swine are intelligent are highly adaptive. For example, crop depredation may cease in an area after a few swine are removed - not because the swine are removed but because they adapt and move to another farm or area to feed.
- Reports of not only sightings and harvesting but also of damage have been documented. In Cambria County, one resident reported $2,000 in yard damage in 2002.
- Four swine chased a woman on a golf cart in Carbon County in 2004, and in Perry County in 2005, feral swine were reported to be a nuisance and dangerous - a school bus almost hit one.
- The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture tested two feral swine from the northeast region for diseases in 2003-04: pseudorabies and brucellosis were not detected.
- In Pennsylvania, there are currently no regulations regarding the escape/release of feral swine. The Pennsylvania Domestic Animal Act does provide the ability to create such a regulation.
- Creating regulations on fencing requirements for feral swine in captivity in hunting preserves may help prevent escapes.
- Swine brucellosis is a fatal human disease, which can be transmitted to domestic swine and cattle through exposure to infected afterbirth. Humans can acquire the disease by handling infected swine tissue.
- The Game Commission and Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture know about many, but not all, of the shooting preserves with wild boars in Pennsylvania.
- The economic value of feral swine at shooting preserves and the limited number of feral swine suppliers have increased their value on the market. This demand for feral swine may increase the risk of disease-carrying feral swine being brought into Pennsylvania.
- One recommendation to prevent further problems is to require all shooting preserves to have a permit. This permit would only allow the importation of disease-free feral swine and also require health testing of all shooting preserve mortalities.
- Regulations should also be established making the escape/release of feral swine illegal and to regulate the housing and fencing requirements for maintaining feral swine in captivity