Feral swine (wild boars/hogs) are a nuisance in Pennsylvania, where they can damage property and the habitats of other wildlife. The Pennsylvania Game Commission encourages their elimination. In May of 2008, the commission authorized licensed hunters and trappers to kill unlimited numbers of these animals in most areas of the state. Hunters may use of firearms, bows or crossbows.
Wild boars are a concern to farmers, landowners and the pork industry in Pennsylvania because of damage to fences and feeders, as well as preying on small livestock (kid goats, lambs, newborn calves). They may also spread infectious diseases, such as brucellosis, trichinosis and pseudo rabies. Pigs are weakened and often die from pseudo rabies. It is fatal to sheep, goats, cattle, dogs, cats and many species of wildlife. People who consume meat of animals infected with trichinosis can cause a chronic disease that affects their neurological and cardiac systems. There are a total of 18 viral diseases and 10 bacterial diseases that may be carried by feral swine.
Feral pigs have generally been protected in Pennsylvania. However, the protection has been removed statewide, with the exception of counties where official trapping is taking place. These counties change periodically, and current information can be obtained by contacting the state game commission. Still, individuals may destroy wild hogs for the purpose of protecting agricultural property without obtaining a license for hunting or trapping.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission must be informed within 24 hours of killing feral swine. They will be tested for diseases. Sightings of hogs must also be reported to the regional office of the commission. While hunting wild hogs, it is necessary to comply with the game regulations that are in effect, such as the limitations during deer hunting. Licensing, the wearing of hunter orange and any other hunting safety requirements should be followed. It is prohibited to kill wild hogs on Sundays. Releasing any pig into the wild and relocating or importing feral swine that are not tested for disease is illegal.
To prevent contact with domestic swine, the Pennsylvania Game Commission recommends fencing or keeping domestic pigs confined in buildings. Feral hogs should not be introduced into domestic herds. In addition, feral swine should not be butchered on the property where domestic pigs are kept, nor should the remains of feral swine be fed to the domestic pigs.
All wild hogs should be handled as if they are infected during field dressing and butchering. The Pennsylvania Game Commission recommends the following: wear disposable gloves, avoid contact with the animals blood or reproductive organs, keep your pets away from the carcasses, wash your hands and tools immediately after you have field dressed or butchered the hog, bury or burn the remains, and cook the meat thoroughly before eating (a minimum temperature of 170 degrees Fahrenheit).
- wild boar image by Budai KÃ¡roly from Fotolia.com