Pennsylvania GC Retains Feral Swine Restriction

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Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe today announced that he was retaining protection on feral swine in Bedford County in an effort to facilitate trapping by individuals permitted by the agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Roe did, however, lift the protection in Bradford, Fulton, Susquehanna and Wyoming counties. Under the executive order, issued in May of 2008, protection remains lifted on feral swine in the remaining 62 counties.

"This decision to lift protection in these four counties is based on a lack of recent reports of feral swine in these areas," Roe said. "Also, we have not identified opportunities for trapping in these areas. Should these opportunities arise, we will reinstate the restrictions on swine hunting in particular areas of interest.

"Trapping is the most effective way to remove feral swine from the wild, because it limits their dispersal into new areas. If funding is not available for trapping, we may consider lifting protection in Bedford County, as well."

The Game Commission has determined that the eradication of feral swine from Pennsylvania is necessary to prevent further harm to public and private property, threats to native wildlife and disease risks for wildlife and the state's pork industry. The agency is not seeking to establish a hunting season, but is committed to rid Pennsylvania of this invasive species.

Roe noted that the Game Commission has launched a "Feral Swine" section on its website (www.pgc.state.pa.us), and includes links to the executive order and a map delineating the counties in which feral swine may be taken incidental to other hunting seasons.

Licensed hunters, including those who qualify for license and fee exemptions, are eligible to participate in the unlimited incidental taking of feral swine in those 64 counties where feral swine are not protected. They may use manually-operated rifles, revolvers or shotguns, as well as muzzleloaders, bows and crossbows. All other methods and devices legal for taking feral swine must be conducted and/or used in compliance with the provisions of Section 2308 of Title 34 (Game and Wildlife Code), which can be viewed on the agency's website (www.pgc.state.pa.us) in the "Laws & Regulations" section in the left-hand column of the homepage.

Additionally, the agency may issue permits to authorize individuals to engage in feral swine trapping operations, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services. Feral swine trapping, by permitted individuals, will only be allowed from the close of the flintlock muzzleloading season in mid-January to the beginning of spring gobbler season, and from the end of spring gobbler season until the beginning of archery deer season.

Any person who kills a feral swine must report it to the Game Commission Region Office that serves the county in which the harvest took place within 24 hours. Agency personnel will gather samples to monitor for the presence of disease.

Roe encouraged residents who witness feral swine to also contact the Region Office that serves their county. For contact information, as well as list of counties that each region office serves, visit the Game Commission's website (www.pgc.state.pa.us), click on the "Contact Us" link in the left-hand column of the homepage and scroll down to "Region Offices."

Nearly 25 states across the nation have persistent and possibly permanent populations of feral swine established in the wild, and Pennsylvania is one of 16 new states where introduction is more recent and may still be countered through decisive eradication efforts.

Feral swine have been declared to be an injurious, non-native, invasive species of concern in Pennsylvania that are suspected to have been introduced into the wilds of this Commonwealth through a variety of means, including both intentional and unintentional releases. Feral swine also have been determined to pose a significant, imminent and unacceptable threat to this Commonwealth's natural resources, including wildlife and its habitats; the agricultural industry, including crop and livestock production; the forest products industry; and human health and safety.

The Game and Wildlife Code (Title 34) and agency regulations (Title 58) provide broad authority to the Game Commission to regulate activities relating to the protection, preservation and management of all game and wildlife. However, the agency was only declared to have jurisdiction over matters relating to feral swine by the state Supreme Court in Seeton v. PGC. In its decision, handed down on Dec. 27, 2007, the Supreme Court decision declared feral swine to be "protected mammals," and, as a consequence, feral swine could only be taken as authorized by the agency.