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wildlife

New York Terrorized by Disease-Ridden, Apple-Eating, 300-Pound Feral Pigs

My beautiful picture

The "disturbing truth" about the crop issues in upstate New York, the Times reports, isn't extraterrestrial, but it's not simply an abundance of deer causing the problems, either. It's far scarier than that:

Alternately called wild boars and feral swine, the pigs are not the gentle, pink cousins of Wilbur from “Charlotte’s Web,” E. B. White’s children’s classic. They start to breed as early as 6 months of age, bearing litters of as many as 10 piglets. They carry disease and can be aggressive toward people. They have even inspired a new television series, “Hogs Gone Wild,” about efforts to hunt them from Hawaii to Alabama.

Perhaps most worrisome is their reputation as eating machines: the pigs devour ground-nesting birds and reptiles, fawns and domestic livestock, native vegetation and crops.

Lately, they've been tearing it up in our home state, eating apples and corn in the dead of night, with the potential to triple their population in one year. Farmers have set up traps, including "doughnuts laced with Jell-O powder," but as one man put it, "I've never worked with an animal this smart."

It's probably all Christopher Columbus's fault, according to some researchers who believe he introduced the animal to North America. There are now 5 million of them nationwide, and upstate they seem to be spreading. Luckily, we have nothing of interest to them here in the city, but everyone should probably cool it with those community gardens, just in case.

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Photo: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation