Animal of the Week: Feral Swine
By Kathrine Ledermann, Features Contributor
Feral swine are considered the most invasive species in the United States. They belong to the species Sus scrofa, which is the same as the regular domesticated pig. In the 1500s, they were brought here from Europe as a food source, and their populations have since spread throughout the country. Their foraging behaviors can cause damage to agriculture, ruining roughly $1.5 billion worth of land and crops annually. As they forage for food, they uproot vegetation and disturb the ecosystems around them, as the damage they do is difficult for the environment to recover from. The sharp tusks they bear can ruin acres of land within a matter of days while they scavenge for fawns, young livestock, worms and vegetation.
At the same time, they’re not picky eaters and will eat almost whatever they are presented with. This allows them to live in most rural, suburban and urban settings. They roam in varied areas of the U.S., including upstate and western areas of New York. They can reach up to 400 pounds and run at 30 mph, although they usually travel much more slowly. However, don’t take that as a sign to approach them, as they have been shown to be aggressive towards people when threatened. They do not have many predators in New York, so their population size has been able to grow rather quickly.