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March 14, 2013

Pennsylvania Committees Criticized for Advancing Bill to Remove State Oversight of Captive Pig Hunts

The Humane Society of the United States criticized the Pennsylvania House and Senate Game and Fisheries Committees for passing legislation that would eliminate all oversight for captive hunting operations for feral pigs. House Bill 723 and Senate Bill 644 would remove the authority of the Pennsylvania Game Commission from regulating feral pigs in captive hunts – fenced pens where trophy-seekers can pay to shoot the trapped animals for guaranteed kills.

Captive hunting enclosures can result in escapes of captive animals, spreading diseases to native wildlife populations, jeopardizing hunting opportunities in the wild and threatening the agriculture industry.  

“Lawmakers should not tie the hands of the Pennsylvania Game Commission and leave captive pig hunting operations completely unchecked,” said Sarah Speed, Pennsylvania state director for The HSUS.  “Nearby states are increasingly closing their borders to captive hunts for feral pigs in response to threats of colonizing hordes of escaped animals. Politics should not trump sound scientific wildlife management decisions.”

The PGC is currently considering a proposed rule that would prohibit the possession, importation and release into the wild of feral pigs. The Commission unanimously voted in favor of the rules at their January meeting, and the second vote is scheduled in April. If H.B. 723 and S.B. 644 pass, the PGC would no longer have the authority to implement their sound, proposed rule to regulate these operations throughout the state.

Facts:

  • Animals in captive hunts are stocked inside fenced enclosures, allowing ranches to often offer guaranteed trophies, “100 percent success” rates, and advertise "no kill, no pay" policies.
  • Captive hunts are generally reviled by the hunting community nationwide for violating the principle of fair chase. Hunting groups such as the Boone and Crockett Club and the Pope and Young Club, which maintain trophy records for big game hunting, will not consider animals shot at captive hunts for inclusion on their record lists.
  • The USDA estimates that feral pigs inflict more than one billion dollars in damages every year.
  • Feral pigs can spread diseases such as pseudorabies and brucellosis, which threaten domestic livestock populations.
  • Michigan and Kansas recently took action to prohibit captive hunting of feral pigs, and legislation is currently pending in New York that would prohibit the possession and importation of feral pigs.

Media Contact: Kaitlin Sanderson: 301-721-6463; ksanderson@humanesociety.org

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