2008-10-30 / Local & State

Game Commission Removes Protection On Feral Swine

Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe recently rescinded protection on feral swine found in the wild in Butler, Bedford and Cambria counties.

"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 has determined that the eradication of feral swine 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.

"We are not seeking to establish a hunting season for feral swine, but rather we are committed to rid Pennsylvania of this invasive species," Roe said.

Licensed hunters, including those who qualify for license and fee exemptions, 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. All other methods and devices legal for taking feral swine must be conducted in compliance with the provisions of Section 2308 of Title 34 (Game and Wildlife Code), which can be viewed on the agency's Web site (www.pgc.state.pa.us) in the "Laws & Regulations" section in the lefthand column of the homepage.

Any person who kills a feral swine must report it to the Game Com- mission Region Office that serves the county in which the harvest took place within 24 hours. Residents who witness feral swine also are urged to contact the region office that serves their county. For contact information, as well as list of counties that each region office serves, visit the Game Commission's Web site (www.pgc.state.pa.us), click on the "Contact Us" link in the left-hand column of the homepage and scroll down to "Region Offices."

Nearly 25 states across the nation have persistent and possibly permanent populations of feral swine established in the wild, and Pennsylvania is one of 16 new states where introduction is more recent and may still be countered through decisive eradication efforts.

Feral swine have been declared to be an injurious, non-native, invasive species of concern in Pennsylvania that are suspected to have been introduced into the wilds of this commonwealth through a variety of means, including both 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 habitats; the agricultural industry, including crop and livestock production; the forest products industry; and human health and safety.

The Game and Wildlife Code (Title 34) and agency regulations (Title 58) provide broad authority to the Game Commission to regulate activities relating to the protection, preservation and management of all game and wildlife. However, the agency was only recently declared to have jurisdiction over matters relating to feral swine by the state Supreme Court in Seeton v. PGC. In its decision, handed down on Dec. 27, the Supreme Court decision declared feral swine to be "protected mammals," and, as a consequence, feral swine could only be taken as authorized by the agency. Without established harvest rules, the Supreme Court declared them protected until such time as the agency takes action.

For more information, visit the Game Commission "Feral Swine" section on its Web site at (www.pgc.state.pa.us).

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