from the New Mexico News Connection - A statewide news service for New Mexico
ROSWELL, N.M. - The New Mexico Agriculture Department wants to expand its ongoing battle against feral hogs. The list of plants and animals they threaten directly and indirectly is long. It includes deer, reptiles, rabbits and the food sources of eagles and coyotes.
Alan May, the state director for USDA Wildlife Services, calls the hogs an "environmental and economic disaster." He has no kind words about them.
"They prey on native wildlife. They prey on young livestock. They compete with native wildlife for limited food resources. They transmit diseases to both livestock and wildlife."
Feral hogs also damage crops and property, May says, and contaminate water supplies. He wants to eliminate the animals from New Mexico, and he says land management and wildlife agencies support the idea. The challenge is coming up with the funding, he adds.
Although May has not yet determined how much money would be needed to eradicate the hogs, he knows where he wants to start.
"Right now, the population farthest west that we have is along the Middle Rio Grande Valley. We really want to stop those pigs first. We don't want pigs to spread to points west from there."
It's believed the hogs were brought in from nearby states by people who released them on private property to hunt, for sport. New Mexico now has laws against such paid hunts, as well as laws prohibiting transporting or releasing feral swine in the state.
Every year, May says, feral hogs cause more than $1 billion in damages nationwide, so it's important to do more, and act quickly.
The New Mexico Livestock Board has posted information about feral swine problems at www.nmlbonline.com.
Beth Blakeman reporting, firstname.lastname@example.org