New York To Ban Hunting And Trapping Eurasian Boar
April 29, 2014
Back in October, NY Governor Mario Cuomo signed legislation banning the release of Eurasian boar into the wild (mea culpa… the Hog Blog missed this and failed to report when it happened). The same legislation will phase out all import, sale, breeding, and possession of Eurasian boar throughout New York by September of 2015, effectively shutting down high fence hunting throughout the Empire State.
As justification for the ban, the NY Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) points to the number of wild boar which have escaped from high fence hunting facilities and established populations in the wild. Efforts to contain the spread of these invasive, non-native swine have proven expensive and challenging, as hogs are both prolific breeders and highly intelligent animals. They quickly learn to avoid traps, and if an entire sounder isn’t captured, the remaining animals can quickly rebuild their populations.
As part of the control effort, sport hunters have been able to shoot wild hogs on sight. Property owners have also been permitted to set traps to protect agriculture and landscaping. According to officials from the DEC, rather than helping, these efforts appear to be hindering organized eradication efforts by scattering and pressuring the hogs.
As a result, in order to allow the DEC and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to successfully carry out an eradication program, sport hunting and trapping of wild hogs will no longer be allowed in New York state. The new regulation, adopted on April 23 follows:
Part 180, Section 180.12 – Eurasian Boar – Express Terms Adopted April 23, 2014
6 NYCRR Part 180 (“Miscellaneous Regulations”) is amended to add a new Section 180.12 entitled “Eurasian boar” to read as follows:
Section 180.12 Eurasian boar
(1) No person shall hunt, trap, take or engage in any activity, including the use of dogs, that is likely to result in the taking of any free-ranging Eurasian boar, as defined in Environmental Conservation Law section 11-0514. “Free-ranging” shall mean any Eurasian boar that is not lawfully possessed within a completely enclosed or fenced facility from which the animal cannot escape to the wild.
(2) No person shall disturb, move, destroy, tamper with, obstruct, damage, open or interfere with any lawfully set Eurasian boar trap, net or capture device. No person shall release, remove or transport any live Eurasian boar caught in any trap, net or capture device.
(3) Exceptions. This section shall not apply to any state or federal agency, to any member of a law enforcement agency acting in accordance with their official duties, or to any other person permitted to take Eurasian boar pursuant to Environmental Conservation Law section 11-0521 or section 11-0523. Any person who takes a free-ranging Eurasian boar pursuant to any of the above exceptions shall promptly notify the Department and follow all instructions given by the Department with respect to handling and disposition of the carcass.
Is this a good thing? I don’t know.
I’ve always felt that sport hunters are not the right agents to carry out eradication efforts. There are a lot of reasons for this, but not the least of them is that many sport hunters are so indoctrinated to certain ethical standards that they’re unwilling to take the extreme measures required to wipe out a population… such as shooting wet sows and babies. Many sport hunters don’t want to kill more than they can eat (or carry), and will shoot one or two hogs out of a sounder and move on.
It’s also true that trying to eradicate a species like wild hogs by shooting individual animals is like trying to drain the ocean with a shot glass. The only way to remove the animals is to get entire sounders in a single engagement, and this requires trapping on a pretty large scale. The other alternative is poisoning, and while progress is being made on a targeted poison bait for wild hogs; the risks to other wildlife, livestock, and pets is high.
On the other hand, eradication may prove to be an over-ambitious undertaking. In NY, as I understand, the hogs are still pretty geographically isolated, and that does give an advantage to the government trappers. However, it only takes a couple of hogs to establish a population pretty quickly. If the eradication isn’t absolute, the animals will spread and establish in new areas. It’s not a little ironic that this possibility (spreading the animals out) was one of the justifications used by the DEC in deciding to ban sport hunting for wild hogs.
As far as shutting down the high fence operations, well, I can’t help thinking that’s really overkill. If the animals in the wild are truly escapees from the captive facilities (and they could be, I can’t dispute that), then it points to a need for better management and regulation. It also suggests that accountability is not sufficient, and the facility operators should be held responsible for the costs and efforts of containment. This should not be an insurmountable problem, and shutting down an industry over a few bad operators just never makes sense to me.
But that’s just my opinion.
At any rate, Empire State hunters can still pursue Eurasian wild boar on the preserves until September, 2015. After that, hopeful hog hunters will have to set their sights on another state.