Pennsylvania Lifts Protection on Feral hogs
Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe announced he has lifted protection on feral swine in Bedford County and has issued an updated executive order to allow for the incidental taking of feral swine statewide by licensed hunters.
"This decision to lift protection in Bedford County is based on the need to continue to take feral swine in this area, and we have not identified opportunities for trapping in this area," Roe said. "Should trapping opportunities arise, we will reinstate the restrictions on swine hunting in particular areas of interest since trapping is the most effective way to remove feral swine from the wild and to limit their dispersal into new areas."
A survey of Game Commission staff completed last year indicated fewer sightings of feral swine compared to the survey completed in 2006. In 2008, five counties were identified to retain protection so that hunters would not interfere with trapping operations that were ongoing. In 2009, restrictions were lifted in four counties leaving only Bedford County where trapping operations were ongoing.
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 a "Feral Swine" section on its website (www.pgc.state.pa.us), which can be accessed by putting your cursor on the "Hunt/Trap" tab in the menu bar at the top of the homepage and then click on "Feral Swine" from the drop-down menu listing. The site includes links to the executive order, the current news release regarding feral swine and a brochure.
Licensed hunters, including those who qualify for license and fee exemptions, are eligible to participate in the unlimited incidental taking of feral swine. Hunters 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) by putting your cursor on the "The Law" tab in the menu bar at the top of the homepage and then click on "Title 34: Game and Wildlife Code."
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. The swine carcass must then be made available to agency personnel, who 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), put your cursor on "About Us" in the menu bar at the top of the homepage and click on "Regional Information" in the drop-down menu listing.
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 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. The agency was 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 declared feral swine to be "protected mammals," and, as a consequence, feral swine could only be taken as authorized by the agency.