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Fred Stabbert III | Democrat

J.P. Rosello, whose grandparents own 2,500 acres of land known as the Andersen Maple Farm, shot this 240-lb. wild pig last week along with three other smaller pigs. The damage wild pigs can do to fields, crops and other livestock can be devastating.

Feral swine starting to invade Sullivan

By Fred Stabbert III
LONG EDDY — October 1, 2010 — Wild pigs are here!
Earlier this year, representatives of the USDA went door-to-door in many parts of western Sullivan County to ask residents if they had seen any feral swine, also known as wild pigs.
USDA Biologist Justin Gansowski said, “New York has been very proactive [in trying to prevent the invasion].
“Pennsylvania has them and we are doing border surveillance to try and figure out how many are here,” Gansowski said. “If they are out [in the wild] and breeding, we could have a serious problem to wildlife and agriculture.
“They will eat anything, deer, fawns, corn – you name it, they’ll eat it. If you have a small number of pigs, no problem, there’s little danger,” he said. “But in a state like Texas there’s $50 million of damage due to feral swine.”
August Andersen, who owns Anderson Maple Farm with his wife, Irene, just outside Long Eddy, has known about the pig problem for nearly three years.
Andersen says a neighbor across the hill from him has the wild pigs fenced in with 12' high fences.
But the wild pigs dig under them and get out.
“He should have the fence buried four feet deep, so they can’t get out. Nobody seems to police him, which I don’t understand,” Andersen said.
Once the pigs are out, they have run through the woods to Andersen’s farm and damaged his fields.
“They’ll rut it up, it looks like you put a plow in it,” Andersen said. “The USDA seems to be the only people who do anything, the DEC don’t want to hear it.
“Last year, they tore up a field and I called the guy (who owns the pigs) and he came and fixed it,” he said.
But Andersen is worried about more than his fields.
His grandson, J.P. Rosello, was out hunting last November when he saw a 400 pounder running through one of his grandfather’s field.
He took a shot using a high-calibre rifle, and although he hit the pig between the eyes, it got up and ran away.
But this year, Rosello saw the damaged fields again in a hill overlooking the farm, and decided to take action.
Last week he shot four of the animals, the largest weighing 240 pounds. He was able to get them as they came out of the woods.
A Nationwide Problem
Free ranging populations of wild pigs – estimated at 4 million total – exist in at least 39 states. The largest populations located in California, Florida, Hawaii and Texas.
Wild pigs are susceptible to several serious swine diseases, including brucellosis, pseudorabies, swine fever and African swine fever.
The rooting and wallowing activities of wild pigs cause serious erosion to river banks and areas along streams.
These destructive animals have also been known to tear through livestock and game fences and consume animal feed, minerals, and protein supplements.
Not only do wild pigs feast on field crops such as corn, milo, rice, watermelon, peanuts, hay, turf and wheat, but they are efficient predators and – when given the chance – will prey upon young livestock and other small animals.
And because of crossbreeding, wild pigs don’t all look alike, and can be confused with domestic swine.
The USDA would like to know of any sightings or harvesting of the wild pigs. People can call the USDA Wildlife Services at 1-866-487-3297.
Gansowski said the USDA is working with a lot of different partners to try and stem the tide.
“We are partnered with the NYS DEC and Ag and Markets,” he said. “We have caught some in other parts of the state. We are starting in Sullivan and heading west. It’s too early yet to find out what we have but New York is very proactive, which is a good thing.”

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