Eurasian boar loose in the Catskills
Arkville — Introduced in the early 1900s, the Eurasian Boar now ranges freely in at least 39 states. The species differs from domestic swine by having an elongate head and coarse, dark hair. Transported across county and state lines to stock hunting preserves, populations of escaped Eurasian Boar have sprung up far from their original source.
In New York State alone, Eurasian Boar hunting preserves are found in at least 13 counties, six of which, including Sullivan and Delaware, are now home to established, escaped breeding populations of the species. The animals have been sighted in Callicoon, Bethel, Fremont, and Hancock.
The risks associated with Eurasian Boar are extensive. A generalist species, boars eat anything from small reptiles and amphibians, ground nesting birds and rodents to roots, tubers, and vegetative material. Digging in the soil with its large sensitive nose, a single adult boar is capable of decimating over 10 acres of wetland in the course of its lifetime. One farmer in Delaware County sustained over $15,000 in damage when a group of Eurasian Boar ate an entire crop of seed corn in just two days. A single individual can consume over 1,300 pounds of mast every year. In this way, Eurasian Boars pave the way for invasive species by disturbing soils and interrupting establishment of native plants.
Eurasian Boar are also carriers for over 24 infectious diseases transmissible to humans. In addition, the species carries harmful livestock diseases such as psuedorabies and swine brucellosis.
The Invasive Species Prevention Act of 2012 gives NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) the authority to develop regulations for all invasive species. These regulations are currently under development with a draft due by the end of March. The DEC’s goal is to eradicate the Eurasian Boar in New York State: consequently, the most effective regulation for this species would be to list it as prohibited (illegal to possess). Although hunting preserves bring in an estimated $200,000 to $1.6 million in yearly revenue, money expended to mitigate the damage inflicted by Eurasian Boar is far greater.
Hunting is OK
Licensed hunters may currently hunt the animal at any time, in any number, so long as all other firearms and hunting regulations are observed. As of spring 2012 the USDA has begun to eliminate known NYS populations of Eurasian Boar.
If additional funding is acquired, more technicians will be hired to control the animals in Sullivan and Delaware, too. Capable of tripling herd sizes in one year, Eurasian Boar populations in New York State will quickly swell to unmanageable proportions if not addressed now.
If you believe you have seen this species, exercise caution: animals can be very aggressive. Report it to CRISP, hosted by the Arkville-based Catskill Center for Conservation and Development, at 586-2611 or mmarquand @catskillcenter.org or you can also contact your DEC regional office. For more information visit the NYSDEC Eurasian Boar webpage: http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/70843.html.