I have no idea what precipitated the action, but the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s executive director Carl G. Roe has rescinded all protection for feral swine found in the wild.
It now affects the entire Keystone State and even Butler, Bedford and Cambria counties that had been off limits to hog-hunting trappers and hunters. They are now open to pursuers of illegally introduced non-native pigs, such as the wild European black boars, or erstwhile farm pigs that somehow got away and tear up the woods and fields whenever they feel like it.
The pigs are in trouble. On the other hand, so too could be the hunters who want free roasts and chops because these hogs aren’t related to the cartoon world’s Porky Pig. They can be tough adversaries.
I know a little about wild pigs. More about this later, but first there is additional information from the Pennsylvania game people.
“In May, when we removed protection on feral swine in Pennsylvania, we maintained the protection on them in Butler, Bedford and Cambria counties to facilitate trapping by the U.S. and Pennsylvania departments of Agriculture,” Roe said. “Trapping is viewed as the most effective way to remove feral swine from the wild, because it limits their dispersal into new areas.
“However, as we are now outside the time of year in which trapping is most effective, we want to afford hunters the maximum opportunity to remove feral swine that they encounter while participating in the upcoming big game seasons.”
The Game Commission says eradication of wild hogs from Pennsylvania is necessary to prevent “further harm to public and private property, threats to native wildlife and disease risks for wildlife and the state’s pork industry.”
There won’t be a regular pig hunting season, but instead wildlife officials want to just get rid of the oinkers once and for all before they take such a strong hold (as has happened in other states) that it would be tough to get all of them in the rugged terrain found in the state.
So now licensed hunters are eligible to participate in the unlimited incidental taking of feral swine. They may use manually-operated rifles, revolvers or shotguns, as well as muzzleloaders, bows and crossbows. Any person who kills a feral swine must report it to the Game Commission Region Office that serves the county in which the killing took place.
Pennsylvania says that some 25 states have populations of feral swine established in the wild, but Pennsylvania is one of 16 new states where introductions have been more recent and can still be countered through decisive eradication efforts.
The state’s game managers say the wild pigs are an injurious, non-native, invasive species that is suspected of having been introduced into the wilds through a variety of means, including intentional and unintentional releases. Feral swine also have been determined to pose a significant, imminent and unacceptable threat to this Commonwealth’s natural resources, including wildlife and its necessary habitats. Mr. Roe also mentioned that these pigs can pose a threat to human health and safety.
That’s where I come in.
As a child, living in the mountain country of southern Germany, my father and I went deer hunting — more specifically, we were after the small roe deer that are found in central Europe.
I was in a tree stand by myself when I heard a shot, taken by my father, and I climbed down as any nosy boy would to have a look at the deer I was sure my dad had bagged. I was wrong.
He’d fired at a wild black boar, tusks and all, and the porker was not yet dead. In fact, when it saw me it arose from the forest leaves, and took out after me. Scared, I dropped my rifle so I could use both hands and climb a large nearby pile of firewood that my grandfather had cut and stacked up in the middle of the woods, to be picked up whenever cold weather demanded it.
The hog was hard on my heels, but I did make it to the top of the wood pile. It then charged, literally rattling the timber, and I was scared to death.
Then I heard another nearby shot and the already badly wounded pig fell — this time for good. My father had finished the job and the family later rejoiced in the large amount of tasty pork we managed to return home with.
So watch it, Keystoners. Wild hogs are not always willing to run away meekly. Some of them might want a piece of you, instead of the other way around.