June 18, 2013
Pennsylvania Legislature Criticized for Advancing Bill Supporting Captive Pig Hunts
The Pennsylvania legislature passed a measure to support captive hunts of wild pigs. S.B. 644 would remove the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s oversight of captive hunting operations for wild pigs – fenced pens where trophy-seekers can pay to shoot the trapped animals for guaranteed kills – and instead grant authority to the Department of Agriculture.
Earlier this year, the PGC voted unanimously to ban the possession, importation and release into the wild of feral pigs, but pulled its own rule pending this legislation. This bill would end the PGC’s authority over wild pigs and its ability to shut down canned pig hunts.
“It’s troubling that at a time when other states are moving forwards and taking steps to shut down these captive pig hunting facilities to protect native wildlife and farms, Pennsylvania lawmakers are doing the exact opposite,” said Sarah Speed, Pennsylvania state director for The Humane Society of the United States. “Rather than give this issue the immediate attention it deserves, wild pigs are now facing a protracted regulatory battle as the agency prepares rules to address this growing problem.”
Feral pigs frequently escape their enclosures on these captive hunting facilities, greatly increasing the risk of spreading diseases to native wildlife populations, jeopardizing hunting opportunities in the wild and threatening the agriculture industry.
- The USDA estimates that feral pigs inflict more than one billion dollars in damages every year.Michigan and Kansas recently took action to prohibit captive hunting of wild pigs, and pending legislation in New York that would prohibit the possession and importation of wild pigs passed the Senate this week.
- Wild pigs can spread diseases such as pseudorabies and brucellosis, which threaten domestic livestock populations.
- Wild pigs on captive hunts are often killed using incredibly cruel methods, including knives, spears and packs of dogs that chase down the animal.
- 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.
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