Central New York Under Siege — by Wild Boars

Farms in central New York are being invaded by wild boars — of the pseudorabid, bullet-resistant variety.

Wild boars in central New York, which can weigh up to 400 pounds, are posing threats to livestock and to residents. (Photo via Flickr user Savio DSouza)

Suspected of escaping from local game farms, the feral creatures are attacking livestock, killing family pets and chasing people in the state, Reuters reported. And they’re multiplying — officials don’t have a handle on the exact population figure, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture said they’re successfully breeding in three counties, averaging four to six piglets per litter.

Of the 27 boars trapped or shot last year and tested for disease, two tested positive for pseudorabies virus, or PRV. While there have been no reports of actual attacks on humans, experts say the animals can be aggressive, weighing up to 400 pounds with sharp, four-inch tusks.

New York’s Invasive Species Council issued a $230,000 grant last year to try to curb the boar population, but that’s been difficult because the swine are hard to kill.

Peter Anderson, a third-generation farmer, told Reuters he’s probably shot 15 or 20 of the animals over the last three years:

“We’ve shot them right square in the head and the bullet will glance off and they’ll get up and go. Their skulls are so thick in the front, if you don’t happen to hit it at a perfect 90 degrees, with the way their heads have that kind of curved shape, the bullet will glance right off,” he said.

In a report, the Department of Agriculture said left unchecked, the boar population could potentially devastate the area’s natural resources, agriculture and human health and safety. But because the traps used to capture the animals are expensive, funding remains an obstacle. An application for new grant money is pending.

In the meantime, residents report sightings to one another and rely on their rifle-owning neighbors for protection.

We have a lot of older retired folks who don’t have guns,” Andersen said. “They call us and hopefully we get there in time to take care of the matter.”