Feral hogs in Bethel
WHITE LAKE, NY — The wild boar or feral hog problem in New York State is not nearly as dire as it is in states like Texas and Florida, where the explosion in the number of dangerous swine and the people who hunt them has led to the birth of the reality TV show “American Hogger.” Still, the problem does exist in New York and, specifically, it exists in the Town of Bethel.
Bethel resident Susan Brown Otto gave a presentation about the problem to the town board on May 23. She said that a few weeks ago she was traveling on Goldsmith Road and came across four wild boar, a mother and three youngsters “in the middle of the road.”
She said this type of wild boars pose danger to humans who might happen upon them. Her opinion was that these boars had escaped from a facility that raises boars to be hunted at a location. Called Pond Ridge Hunts, the website for the Delaware County organization lists the location on Goldsmith Road where, “Our hunting preserve is ideal for wild Russian boar, born and raised on premises. Ram hunting, deer hunting, and many other exotic animals available! Once you’re finished with all the hunting, enjoy a nice, relaxing tour around our property!” (A phone call to the facility was not returned.)
Brown Otto said she was not trying to “put the damper on a business in Bethel,” but she wanted the board to know about her concern. She said once the animals are loose in the wild they represent a big problem for farmers, gardeners and people with children or pets “because these animals are vicious.”
Council member Richard Crumley (who passed away on May 27) said he had talked to a farmer about feral hogs, and confirmed that they are not nice. He said he thought “these things should be run out of Bethel.”
Council member Denise Frangipane said this business had come to the town’s attention once before, and that they were told at the time that the company was transporting people upstate to hunt, but none of their animals were here. “So are they operating legally?” she asked. “Technically, it’s not agriculture, so do they have a license to keep these animals in the town?”
She further asked if the use is a permitted one in the zone in which it is located. She said if it’s a health and safety issue, the owner should be compelled to fix the broken fence through which the hogs had reportedly escaped.
Town clerk Rita Sheehan said that anyone in the town who has an exotic animal, such as a cougar or an exotic snake, is supposed to register the animal with the town clerk, but she did not know if wild boar applied; she said she would look into it.
Brown Otto said she had discussed the situation with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and the only way this operation could be controlled is through the development of a local statute that specifically addresses wild boars.
On its website, the DEC says, “DEC’s goal is to eradicate feral swine from the state’s landscape. In New York, people with a small-game license may shoot and keep feral swine at any time and in any number.”