Wild hogs invade Central New York

A wild hog / photo: NYS DEC

They're quickly becoming the creatures that make farmers in Central New York cringe.

"When I hear the words wild or feral hogs, I think of impending damage to my crops," said Mike McMahon, owner of McMahon EZ Dairy Farm in Homer.

For years, wild hogs have been a problem down South -- but the hogs have invaded Central New York and are now actively breeding in Onondaga, Cortland and Tioga counties. They multiple quickly, destroy crops even faster and account for more than $1.5 billion in damage annually across the United States. McMahon told me he's seen the damage first hand.

"We have begun to see areas in the corn fields where there would be large patches of corn just flattened and the ears just stripped off from them," he said.

But it's not just crops -- the United States Department of Agriculture warns they carry diseases that can sicken pets, humans and livestock. It's unclear just how many wild hogs live in New York State, but the USDA is stepping in to make sure the population remains under control. In 2010, the USDA captured and killed 27 wild hogs in Central New York in an effort to control the invasive species, but McMahon said the problem is already out of control. He recommends the state issue a hunting season specifically for the Hogs.

"I think there are guys out there that would be thrilled to hunt these things," he said.

In the meantime, McMahon said there's not much he, or other famers, can do to keep wild hogs off their property. He said he's cautiously optimistic about his corn crop this fall and can only hope these imposing creatures, which can grow up to 400 pounds, find somewhere else to eat.