A group of feral pigs are plaguing upstate New York, ravaging crops and ground-nesting birds, breeding like crazy, and generally causing a gross ruckus all around.

According to the Times, Champlain Valley of New York is overrun with them. Nocturnal and particularly aggressive, the swine are a problem for several reasons:

They start to breed as early as 6 months of age, bearing litters of as many as 10 piglets. They carry disease and can be aggressive toward people. They have even inspired a new television series, "Hogs Gone Wild," about efforts to hunt them from Hawaii to Alabama.

Perhaps most worrisome is their reputation as eating machines: the pigs devour ground-nesting birds and reptiles, fawns and domestic livestock, native vegetation and crops. Feral pigs have already proliferated in parts of western New York. But state officials are drawing a line in the topsoil, so to speak, determined to protect both the agrarian economy and the fragile ecosystem from the nascent herd - or "sounder" in swine-speak - in the town of Peru.

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