Feral swine, an invasive species, have been a problem for years if not decades, and populations have been reported in at least 35 states with a total population “estimated at over 6 million,” as noted by USDA. At least one swine herd was reported in New Jersey while I was serving as the State Veterinarian, at the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, where we teamed up with the state Department of Environmental Protection and USDA Wildlife Services to eradicate the feral swine wreaking havoc and destroying property in South Jersey.
As depicted in USDA published maps of feral swine populations, it looks like there have been no reported populations in NJ since after 2016.
However, feral swine populations appear to be growing exponentially across the country. With few natural predators, if any, USDA has established and is implementing a program to eliminate these populations, which present significant animal and public health risks of disease transmission as well as environmental damage.
As described on USDA’s website the Feral Swine Eradication and Control Pilot Program “was established by section 2408 of the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, better known as the 2018 Farm Bill.”
“A total of $75 million dollars was allocated to USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to work together on pilot projects to help farmers and producers fight against feral swine damage.
Pilot projects will involve three highly coordinated components:
“Feral swine removal by APHIS;
“Assistance to producers for feral swine control provided through partnership agreements with non-federal partners; and
“Restoration efforts by NRCS.
The states participating in this program are listed on USDA’s website, along with instructions for submission of applications in the future, for those states interested in obtaining such assistance, if available.
Finally, it is important to highlight the importance of these efforts, that should help prevent the spread of African Swine Fever and other infectious, pathogenic diseases of swine, some of which can also infect people.