COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) — A team of Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers confiscated three feral swine from an El Paso County farm last year. Those pigs later tested positive for a disease that is potentially fatal to other livestock and pets.
Acting on tips from the public, the CPW team visited the small farm located east of Colorado Springs on Sept. 3, 2020. The team had been advised that the homeowner there was raising feral swine illegally imported from Texas.
Officers found the three swine in a small barn. They were euthanized and their carcasses seized. Blood samples were then sent to a lab for analysis.
Those test results showed the presence of pseudorabies, “a contagious herpes virus that causes reproductive problems including abortion and stillbirths,” CPW stated in a press release Monday. “The disease also causes respiratory problems and occasional deaths in breeding and finishing hogs. Besides swine, it can spread to cattle, dogs, cats, sheep and goats.”
“This is exactly why we have worked so hard to eliminate free-roaming feral swine from Colorado,” said Travis Black, CPW’’s Regional Manager for the Northwest Region based in Grand Junction and an expert on feral pigs. “Roaming wild, feral swine destroy agricultural crops, wildlife habitat and out-compete native species for food. And feral swine kept on farms pose a huge risk to other animals by spreading diseases such as pseudorabies, as in this case.”
Black was deputy manager of CPW’s Southeast Region in February 2020 when the agency announced the successful elimination of the species from state lands. The effort was focused on Colorado’s southeastern plains. It required 15 years and the assistance of Colorado Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Forest Service to complete.
The El Paso County homeowner cooperated with CPW’s investigation, CPW stated, and was cited for illegally transporting and possessing the prohibited species. Each charge is a misdemeanor and carries a fine amounting to $137 per animal.
CPW is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to trace the pigs back to their original herd in Texas to stop further spread of infected swine.