The term feral swine is often used to describe all swine species that are living unconfined in the wild. The definition often includes domestic pigs or pet pigs that have been released or escaped captivity, Eurasian boar (wild boar native to Europe and Asia also called wild boar, razorback, and Russian boar) and hybrids of the two. However, it is the invasive Eurasian boar that is new to the New York landscape, represents the greatest threat to NY and has the potential to become permanently established if action is not taken immediately.
Why Are Eurasian Boars a Problem?
Eurasian boars are a highly adaptable, destructive, non-native species. The primary source of Eurasian boar in New York appears to be escaped or released boars from enclosed shooting facilities, breeding facilities or animal sanctuaries.
DEC's goal is to eradicate Eurasian boars from New York's landscape. Eurasian boars in New York can have tremendous negative impacts on native plants, native wildlife, livestock, agriculture, and humans including:
- Eurasian boars eat hard mast (acorns and other nuts) and directly compete with deer, bear, turkey, squirrel and waterfowl for food.
- Eurasian boars consume the nests and eggs of ground nesting birds and reptiles.
- Eurasian boars will kill and eat fawns and young domestic livestock.
- Eurasian boars will eat almost any agricultural crop as well as tree seeds and seedlings.
- Their rooting and wallowing habits destroy crops and native vegetation, cause erosion, and negatively affect water quality.
- Eurasian boars have razor sharp tusks and can be aggressive toward humans and their pets.
- Eurasian boars carry and can transmit several serious diseases including swine brucellosis, E. coli, trichinosis, and pseudorabies to livestock and /or humans. Some of these diseases, if introduced to domestic swine, can decimate the pork industry.
Eurasian boars (scientific name: Sus scrofa) usually appear hairy. They are most often dark black or brown, often grizzled with gray. Piglets are lighter in color with brown and tan stripes. The stripes disappear as they get older and darker in color. They usually have a long straight narrow snout, a long straight tail with a tuft at the end and erect hairy ears. Some have a "mane" of hair that stands up along ridge of their back ("razorback"). Many have large, prominent tusks.
Eurasian boars are highly adaptable and prolific. If weather is good and food is plentiful, Eurasian boars can breed as early as 6 months of age. They can breed several times a year and their litter size can range from 2-8, although litters as large as 10-12 have been reported. A Eurasian boar population can double in one year.
What You Can Do
As stated above, DEC's goal is to eradicate Eurasian boars from the state's landscape. In New York, people with a small game hunting license may shoot and keep Eurasian boars at any time and in any number. All other hunting laws and firearms regulations are still in effect when shooting Eurasian boars. If you are in an area that prohibits the use of rifles during big game seasons, you cannot use a rifle to shoot Eurasian boars during any open deer season (including archery seasons). Please remember that it is illegal to discharge a firearm within 500 feet of a school, playground, church, dwelling, farm building, or occupied structure. You need to obtain permission of the landowner to enter any lands you do not own.
A number of diseases can be transmitted from swine to humans, so be sure to wear disposable gloves when field dressing Eurasian boars and disinfect your equipment after processing the meat to prevent infection. Eurasian boars can also carry a number of parasites that can be transmitted to humans who eat raw or undercooked pork. All swine meat should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 170°.
There are some feral domestic and pet pigs in NY. These animals either escaped from farms and homes or are allowed to roam free. Domestic farm pigs can vary greatly in color, size and appearance. Most have short hair, a curly tail and ears that are flat and lay forward. Pet pigs, most often Vietnamese pot belly pigs, are most often characterized by their short smushed upturned snout and their pot belly (a large belly that hangs down nearly to the ground).
Since it is sometimes difficult to distinguish a domestic pig, pot belly pig or Eurasian boar based solely on a description, reporting of all feral swine is encouraged. If you do shoot or see Eurasian boars, or any feral swine, please report them to the nearest DEC regional wildlife office or e-mail us. Please report the number of animals seen or killed, whether any of them were piglets, the date, and the exact location (county, town, distance and direction from an intersection, nearest landmark, etc.). Photographs of Eurasian boars are greatly appreciated, so please try and get a picture and include it with your report.