In the past five years, the population of wild boar in New York state and across the East Coast has slowly increased, leading to a spike not only in sightings but also in consumption of the swine.
According to Paul Curtis, Natural Resources Professor at Cornell University, anywhere from 40 to 200 wild boar are currently populating the state, and the number will steadily increase if the non-native species is not properly removed.
“Hogs have been seen in most southern tier counties along the [Pennsylvania] border, along with Cortland and Onondaga Counties,” Curtis said.
He added that wild boar are thought to have entered the state in two distinct ways: by escaping from captive breeding facilities and shooting preserves, and by migrating into New York from Pennsylvania, where they breed in over 18 counties.
Most media attention on the swine has gravitated towards the wild boar's aggressive nature. But Field & Stream Editor Anthony Licata identified a more pressing problem with the population’s presence.
“Wild boars have a reputation for being dangerous and there’s some truth to that,” he said. “But...it’s more of a concern of the impact that they’re going to have on native wildlife and plants. They don’t have traditional predators and everything else that is supposed to be here has not evolved with them, so they can really throw things out of balance.”
Professor Curtis seconded Licata’s concerns, citing “damage to crops, potential disease transmission to livestock and attacks to people or pets” as the main impacts of the swine’s intrusion. Of 27 captured hogs tested for pseudorabies in 2010, two tested positive.
And yet despite its increasingly noticeable presence, the population is still small enough to eradicate. That's one of the goals of the United States Department of Agriculture Wildlife Damage Management. In 2010, Curtis said that the unit inaugurated an “active hog removal program funded by grant dollars.”
Hunting the animal is also legal in New York state, as long as the boars’ meat is not sold for commercial purposes.
“Wild boar is delicious!" said Licata, of Field & Stream. "It’s very good, very good to eat. I think people should go out, and they should hunt them, and they should come home and cook them and throw a big party and feed all their friends wild boars."
He added one wild boar would feed a family for some time.
“You kill a wild boar and you have a lot of meat in your freezer," he said. "And as I said before, they’re delicious.”
The wild boar has a reputation for being difficult to capture. But Curtis warned of the risks associated with not reigning in the state's wild boar population.
“Every other state with hogs lost this battle in a few years," he said. "Hogs are too smart and prolific. We have a few years where eradication is still feasible, then the opportunity will be lost.”
Restaurants in the city with wild boar currently on the menu include 508 GastroBrewery (slow braised wild boar with cider and marsala wine and pici noodles), Bar'Rique (cured wild boar cacciatorini) and Apizz (lasagna with a sauce of wild boar).