Tom Barkman figures feral hogs cost him more than $2,100 last year. The hogs ruined what would have been 700 to 800 bushels of corn he was raising on his Everett farm.
"They were rooting out the corn as I planted it," Barkman said. "I planted the one field three times, and it ended up really costing me in the end."
It was the second year the hogs had damaged Barkman's crops, though he hasn't had any issues this year.
Wildlife and agricultural officials have been monitoring feral hogs for several years, said Mark O'Neill, media relations director for the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau.
About two weeks ago, the Pennsylvania Game Commission euthanized four feral swine found near Raystown Lake, Huntingdon County.
Area farmers say the hogs can wreak havoc on their land, crops and animals.
"For farmers, it's a dual concern," O'Neill said. "For one, (the hogs) are causing major damage to crops, and the other is that they spread disease, and if they come in contact with farm animals, it could be a very serious thing."
Feral hogs is a blanket term for both domestic swine that have escaped or been intentionally released or imported Russian boars that were brought to the U.S. for hunting, said Jim Marks, law enforcement supervisor for the Pennsylvania Game Commission's south central region.
The hogs haven't been reported in every county in the state, O'Neill said, but rather in "pocketed areas."
In May, the game commission lifted protection on feral swine in 64 of the state's 67 counties, meaning licensed hunters can shoot feral hogs at any time.
In Bedford, Cambria and Butler counties, however, the swine remain under protection, as the game commission is monitoring those animals and eliminating them through trapping and euthanization.
But farmers in those counties are allowed to shoot the hogs.
"The restriction on taking feral hogs ... would not apply to landowners suffering damage," Marks said. "If a farmer is able to take a feral hog he sees on his property causing damage, he's (allowed) to do that. ... The restriction only applies to hunters and pursuing hogs.
"They feel that by hunters going out and pursuing these animals, it makes them that much more wild and difficult to capture."
Members of the Cambria County Farm Bureau are on the lookout for the hogs, said president Robert W. Davis of Colver.
"One concern is for some hog farmers in the county - they're concerned about disease," Davis said. "It's a different take for the potato farmers - pigs like to root, and they'll root up potatoes."
Ken Farabaugh of Carrolltown said he had some problems with the pigs three years ago rooting up corn he had planted.
"It just looked like a machine went down through the field," Farabaugh said.
But it's hard to say where the hogs might go next, Davis said.
"These pigs are mobile," he said. "They don't stay in one place very long. A group of them could be in Colver one day and 10 miles away in Vintondale the next."
Mirror Staff Writer Ashley Gurbal is at 946-7435.