According to elected officials and wildlife advocates, there are numerous operations across the country and New York State in which wild boars are kept in fenced enclosures and shot by people who pay for the experience.
According to Bethel Supervisor Dan Sturm, there is a property owner on Perry Road in Bethel who has a pen of wild boars, although there is no shooting done at this location. The concern among officials is that these boars are notorious for escaping from their pens and establishing colonies in the wild.
According to a press release from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, because of the efforts of an “unusually broad and diverse coalition of supporters concerned about the humane treatment of wild pigs and their impacts on native wildlife populations and agriculture,” Cuomo has signed legislation “prohibiting the importation, possession, sale or release of Eurasian boar, wild pigs and their hybrids. The law phases out high-fenced shooting enclosures and breeders from stocking these animals by 2015, and immediately prohibits importation or release of the animals. Violators would be fined $500 to more than $1,000.”
Sturm announced at the Bethel town meeting on October 23 that he was informed of the signing of the law by a representative of the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA), which has been looking into the problem of loose boar in Bethel.
He said the USDA had established wildlife cameras on property near the pen on Perry Road to monitor the situation to help ensure that none of the boar escape. He added, “We’ve had discussions with the property owner, and they have to improve the pen so none of them get out again.”
According to a statement from the USDA, “Escape of swine from shooting preserves, breeding facilities and intentional releases of swine by hunters interested in pursuing them in New York are factors that need to be considered if the eradication efforts in the state are to be successful.”
Another organization that supported the legislation was the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Brian Shapiro, New York state director for HSUS, said, “Animals escaping from fenced shooting facilities led directly to the establishment of these wild populations in New York. Addressing this issue at its source is the most logical, humane and cost effective solution.”
Other organizations that supported the legislation include Catskill Mountainkeeper, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York.
Climate Smart Community Pledge
Sturm also introduced the Town of Bethel Climate Smart Community Pledge. If the board approves, Bethel will join the towns of Tusten, Cochecton, Lumberland and Sullivan County in adopting a Climate Smart Pledge.
Sturm said adopting the pledge will come with advantages for the town. He said, “Climate Smart Communities receive notification of state and federal assistance, which can be leveraged to help adopt low-carbon technologies, and programs and support for efficiency improvements and energy conservation.”
Since 2008 the town has had a program in place to help reduce the cost of energy to the town by making town buildings more energy efficient. The board will discuss the pledge at the next meeting on November 13.