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USDA Steps Up Effort To Track Feral Pigs

AP/John Flesher
Known by various labels; feral hogs, razorbacks, Eurasian and Russian wild boar, feral swine often escape from hunting preserves.

A new federal initiative is designed to recruit Vermonters to keep an eye out for feral swine.

Federal officials say wild pigs are an increasing threat in the Northeast, including several neighboring states. 

Anthony Musante is a wildlife biologist with U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Wildlife Services. Musante says the goal of the initiative is to educate people about the signs of feral pig damage and report them.  

Signs include digging caused by rooting, wallows and tree rubs. The information will help officials determine how many animals there are.

“We’re going to try to initiate some trail camera surveys along with investigating the damage calls or sightings that we get so that we can try to come up with a ballpark figure,” Musante says. “They’re very secretive animals. They travel mostly during the dark hours.”

Musante says wild pigs are a significant problem in the South and Southeast where they prey on native species, damage croplands and present a disease and safety threat.

Feral swine have been reported in 39 states, including in New Hampshire in recent years.  They reproduce rapidly and aggressively expand their range.

Mark Scott, director of wildlife with the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, says Vermont has no known populations of feral pigs.

“We don’t and we hope it stays that way. We get one every so often.  The last one we knew of was in the White River Junction area and we feel it came from New Hampshire,” says Scott.

Scott says prior to last year there were feral pigs that had escaped from a private hunting facility in East Charleston in the Northeast Kingdom.

Vermont law now prohibits keeping wild pigs for hunting

Feral pig signs or sightings can be reported by calling Vermont Wildlife Services (1-800-472-2437) or email

Steve has been with VPR since 1994, first serving as host of VPR’s public affairs program and then as a reporter, based in Central Vermont. Many VPR listeners recognize Steve for his special reports from Iran, providing a glimpse of this country that is usually hidden from the rest of the world. Prior to working with VPR, Steve served as program director for WNCS for 17 years, and also worked as news director for WCVR in Randolph. A graduate of Northern Arizona University, Steve also worked for stations in Phoenix and Tucson before moving to Vermont in 1972. Steve has been honored multiple times with national and regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for his VPR reporting, including a 2011 win for best documentary for his report, Afghanistan's Other War.
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