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Ice fishing & venison by Ron Kolodziej

Wednesday, December 21, 2011 - Updated: 8:33 AM

Here’s a reminder: the Central Adirondack Ice Fishing Contest will be Saturday, Jan. 21, at Adirondack Lake. Check-in begins at 5:30 a.m. at Byron Park. The entry fee is $30 for advance registrations or $35 at the event. Registration forms are available at the Indian Lake Chamber of Commerce and Indian Lake Town Hall.

The contest hours will be 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Over $2,000 in cash prizes and $1,000 in equipment prizes will be available, with cash prizes awarded hourly. For additional information you can call Kim Mitchell at (518) 648-6183 or Vonnie Liddle at 648-5828.

If you prefer, you can also go to indianlakefishandgame.com on the web. Registrations for this event are limited so get yours in early.

FERAL SWINE COMING

I recently queried the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation on the current status of feral swine here in New York state and received the following reply: “I have not heard of any swine taken recently in Cortland, Onondaga, Cayuga or Tioga counties. I have heard of some rooting complaints in Onondaga County and a road kill in Cortland County (that may have been a pot-bellied pig) but nothing taken in those counties that was reported to DEC.”

Montgomery County may not be the first place in the state where the critters have been seen, but it may well be the first - or at least one of the first - where a hunter bagged one.

ABOUT 100 POUNDS

A few days after receiving that reply to my DEC inquiry I heard of a feral hog taken in Montgomery County, and was provided the following information by Don Douglass. The critter was taken Nov. 27 by 22-year-old Ethan Douglass while on a deer hunt. Ethan spotted the hog and began to approach it carefully but it turned surly and ran right at him, gnashing its “cutters” as it approached.

The hog was scarcely 10 feet away when he dispatched it with a single shot from his .30-06. After field dressing, the hog was estimated to weigh approximately 70 pounds, meaning it probably would have weighed about 100 pounds live weight.

FAIR GAME

The DEC has essentially given licensed hunters carte blanche on hogs; that is, take them if you see them and whenever you see them. There are no restrictions as to seasons or bag limits. All that’s required is the hunter possess a small game license. The agency is hoping these efforts will mitigate the critter’s spread here in NYS.

Considering that a feral hog population can double or even triple in one year, that could spell trouble for farmers, residents and even deer in those areas. Hogs will eat anything and that includes domestic livestock, deer and even family pets.

IN 37 STATES

These are not native animals. Since their introduction to the New World in the late 1400s and 1500s, their populations have grown steadily but have skyrocketed the past few decades; they’re now found in 37 states. As a matter of fact, there have been sporadic sightings for over a century even in New Hampshire, and that state recently confirmed a “significant population” of the critters.

Two years ago a 150-pound hog struck the Toyota Prius of a retired wildlife biologist with sufficient force to push it off the road.

Whether the Montgomery County hog was a migrant or an escapee - and whether or not there are others around -remains to be seen. If I get any additional information on the subject I’ll pass it along to you.

INTERESTING FACTS

Here is some information I recently learned on the subject of feral hogs. While Texas has an estimated population of some three million feral swine and they do an estimated $50 million in damage annually, Florida is no slouch in that department either.

The Sunshine State now boasts an estimated population approaching one million, and they’re found in 37 other states in the U.S. as well, including but not limited to North and South Carolina, Oregon, Hawaii, California, Arizona, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and portions of New England.

Also, they’re omnivorous, meaning they’ll eat just about anything that doesn’t eat them first, including deer, pets, crops and cattle. Here in NYS, breeding populations have been discovered in Cortland, Onondaga, Cayuga and Tioga counties.

VENISON DONATION

According to a recent study commissioned by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, last year 11 million meals were provided to the less fortunate through donations of venison by hunters throughout the United States. Nearly 2.8 million pounds of game meat made its way to shelters, food banks and church kitchens and on to the plates of those in need. Here in the Northeast, hunters donated 7.2 percent of that total.

My congratulations to the Venison Donation Coalition here in New York state for doing such a great job in securing donations of deer over the years. That total keeps going up. Since 1999, the Venison Donation Coalition has been highly successful in its goal to feed the hungry here in the state and has processed over 827,000 pounds of highly nutritious venison, the equivalent of over three million meals. This year they anticipate breaking the four million meals mark.

MERRY CHRISTMAS

My best wishes to all of you for a very merry and safe Christmas holiday. Christmas Day falls on a Sunday this year, so drive and celebrate carefully. I hope Santa brings you all those great outdoor-oriented goodies you’ve been wanting.

     

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