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Wildlife Officials: Feral Pigs Threaten New Mexico's Endangered Species

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PHOTO: Feral pigs pose a serious threat to the critical habitat of many endangered species living in New Mexico, according to federal officials working to reduce the animals' population. Photo credit: National Park Service.
PHOTO: Feral pigs pose a serious threat to the critical habitat of many endangered species living in New Mexico, according to federal officials working to reduce the animals' population. Photo credit: National Park Service.
June 30, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - State and federal officials report success in reducing New Mexico's population of feral swine, which threaten endangered species.

Alan May, state director at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services Program, said the agency has eliminated more than 700 of the animals statewide since early last year. The pig's populations had been swelling in New Mexico.

If left unchecked, May said the pigs will destroy the critical habitat of many endangered species.

"We'll lose some of our threatened and endangered species," said May. "We'll lose habitat. Some of our native species won't do quite as well because feral swine are going to outcompete them, especially in riparian wetland areas."

According to May, feral swine can have two litters a year, with an many as ten piglets per litter. Adult pigs weigh as much as 300 pounds.

May said the pigs also cause extensive property damage and carry parasites and diseases, such as swine brucellosis, which can spread to humans and other wildlife.

Michael Robinson is a conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity, which does advocacy work for threatened and endangered species in New Mexico. He said his organization fully supports reducing the feral pig population, because of the threat they pose to endangered species.

"They displace native wildlife," said Robinson. "They impact water, they directly consume some wildlife. And it does seem like the most appropriate uses for wildlife services, for their work."

According to Robinson, the center supports the USDA's program of targeting non-native species such as feral pigs, rather than trapping and sometimes killing native species like wolves that may threaten domestic livestock.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NM