Earlier this year the Pennsylvania Game Commission made a proposal that could potentially put the state’s private hog hunting operations out of business. The proposed rules would have banned the importation and possession of wild pigs by July 2014, a death blow to the commercial hog hunting industry. Their worries were put to rest this Monday when Governor Tom Corbett signed into law Senate Bill 644, handing over control of the issue of wild pigs to the state’s Department of Agriculture. According to Lancaster Online, the bill swept in to save the hog hunting ranches and ousted the Game Commission from all matters relating to hogs and pigs, both feral or captive.

“It’s an offshoot of a farming operation, so it should be under the Department of Ag,” said ranch operator Stephen Mohr.

Feral pigs are extremely adaptable and destructive creatures. They number over five million nationwide and can be a pain for wildlife agencies to grapple with because of their wide-ranging diet and fast breeding cycles. Texas holds the majority of the country’s pig population with over 2.6 million. A number of swine in the wild are domesticated pigs that managed to escape and thrive in their new environment, but wild hogs also exist. These are suspected to come from commercial operators.

Like similar actions in other states, the new proposal is the latest push to exterminate the destructive species before it gains a large foothold. After the signing of SB 644, the Game Commission shelved the proposal but still encourage hunters to shoot hogs wherever they find them in the wild.

Commercial hog hunting is a million-dollar industry for Pennsylvania, and some of the oldest wild boar ranches have been in operation for a half-century. SB 644 turns over the oversight for these facilities to the Department of Agriculture on the stipulation that the department develops strict regulations for the facilities in the next two years, including neutering male hogs so they cannot reproduce in the wild. A similar proposal to ban hogs in New York has just passed the state legislature and is now awaiting Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signature.

Image courtesy U.S. Department of Agriculture

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