BENNINGTON -- Vermonters are being asked to keep a lookout for any feral swine that might be out and about, as the animals are considered an invasive and destructive species in many parts of the country.
There have been no confirmed sightings of feral swine in Vermont, said Director of Wildlife Mark Scott at the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, and that’s how officials hope it stays.
Scott said a few years ago the department received word there might be feral swine near White River Junction, and a few years before that they were reported in the Northeast Kingdom, but there has been nothing in recent years.
Nationwide this is not the case, said Fred Pogmore, a biologist for the United States Department of Agriculture Wildlife Service. He said there is a $20 million fund being distributed to track and prevent the spread of feral swine populations. The animals are estimated to cause $1.5 billion annually in damage. They eat white tailed deer fawns, wild turkey, grouse, woodcock, and their eggs. Feral swine will also devour these animals’ natural food sources. The USDA also believes they can spread diseases to livestock.
Scott said Vermont is looking to get about $70,000 to spend over the course of two years stepping up its efforts to monitor feral swine sightings. The funds are minuscule compared to what other states with established swine populations are getting, he said.
In Vermont the money will cover the cost of training department employees, as well as members of the public, to spot swine tracks and other signs of their presence. It will also cover the cost of department officials investigating reported swine sightings, which may include travel and the setting up of game cameras.
Feral swine are pigs that live and breed in the wild, said Pogmore. Their footprints are similar to that of deer, but are rounder with blunter tips.
Scott said there are game preserves in New Hampshire that have wild boars which could escape and cross the Connecticut River, and there have been reports of them in New York.
Feral swine sightings can be reported by calling 1-800-472-2437 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.