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Officials say wild boar problems continue

Monday, November 03, 2003

By The Associated Press

TWIN ROCKS, Pa. -- Wild boars continue to wreak havoc on residential property and game land two years after game commission officials believe the animals began escaping from a private preserve in Western Pennsylvania.

Game commission officials have said they now have proof the wild boars are coming from Big Mike's Hunting and Fishing Preserve in Blacklick, Cambria County. A car recently struck a nearly 350-pound boar marked with an ear tag, and another was discovered during a check of a butchering shop.

"We want them killed," said Larry Olsavsky, a wildlife conservation officer with the Pennsylvania Game Commission. "They cause property damage, and a 400-pound boar is definitely a threat to human life."

A telephone message left by The Associated Press for Michael Comisac, owner of Big Mike's, was not immediately returned yesterday.

Game commission officials said they have received many reports over the past two years of wild boar sightings, including some with litters of young. The boars are considered a threat to other animals, particularly turkeys, because they can eat supplies of acorn and grains. They also can damage lawns by uprooting the ground.

Some people living along Route 422 between Revloc and Belsano said they are concerned about the safety of their families not only from the boars, but also from potentially irresponsible hunters who try to shoot the animals.

While game commission officials want the boars to be killed, there is little regulation over such nonnative species, which means people can hunt the animals without permits.

"This is not an easy issue. Boars are not native game animals, so they don't fall under our jurisdiction," said Mel Schake of the game commission's Ligonier office.

The state Agriculture Department has jurisdiction over boars' health as they are imported into Pennsylvania, but then the state has little if any recourse to hold people accountable if the animals escape.

Angry neighbors may be able to fight the problem if their municipality has regulations banning businesses from creating a public nuisance, officials said.

"The owner does have a responsibility regarding strays ... and can be brought to court for creating a public nuisance. But that's a local issue, not our department's," Agriculture Department veterinarian Bruce Schmucker said.

State Rep. Thomas Yewcic, D-Cambria, said he has asked game commission and agriculture officials to decide on jurisdiction because the law hasn't kept up with the problem.

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