USDA Steps Up Effort To Track Feral Pigs
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.
Feral pig signs or sightings can be reported by calling Vermont Wildlife Services (1-800-472-2437) or email email@example.com.