ALBANY, N.Y. - It would be illegal for New Yorkers to possess any of more than 120 invasive species under proposed state rules disclosed Tuesday, although bans would be held back temporarily for two invaders now being sold commercially - an ornamental plant common at nurseries and a boar used for hunting.
ALBANY, N.Y. — It would be illegal for New Yorkers to possess any of more than 120 invasive species under proposed state rules disclosed Tuesday, although bans would be held back temporarily for two invaders now being sold commercially — an ornamental plant common at nurseries and a boar used for hunting.
The state's first-ever rules on invasives would cover a wide variety of species, including plants, fish, insects and even algae, from the Asian clams that threaten Lake George to a type of algae that can coat the bottom of fishing streams.
Also, possession and trade in another 29 invasives deemed less risky to the environment would be regulated through permits or licenses from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
While violators could face fines of up to $250 or more, there are two exemptions in the proposals that would allow for people who make a living off such invaders to essentially sell down their inventory.
One such exemption is for Eurasian wild boar, a destructive swine of up to 300 pounds that has spread from the Southeast and is popular in captive hunting, where animals are kept for hunters in commercial preserves. The boars have been sighted in parts of the Catskills, the Southern Tier and in Washington County at the edge of the Adirondacks, and can damage crops.
Reflecting a state law signed earlier this month by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the DEC proposal would allow preserve owners to keep boars, run hunts or sell them through September 2015, but would immediately ban importing or breeding more pigs, or deliberately releasing them into the wild.
''Legislation always involves compromise ... I can see why the state would adopt a grace period," said Brian Shapiro, state director of the Humane Society of the United States, which has warned of the ecological threat posed by the invasive boars. He said by allowing boar hunts to continue temporarily, the state likely protected itself from potential lawsuits from preserve owners who could claim the state was harming them economically by depriving them of their property.
Shapiro said there are about a dozen such preserves in the state that stock the boars, and there is a risk that they could escape. According to a 2010 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, preventing "future releases or escapes of these swine in New York is of high importance. Intentional releases of swine by hunters interested in pursuing them, escape of swine from shooting preserves, and breeding facilities are factors that need to be considered if the eradication efforts in the state were to be successful."
Boars have been found in 36 of the state's 62 counties, and they have breeding population in eight counties, said DEC spokesman Pete Constantakes.
DEC also proposes holding back the invasives ban from applying immediately to Japanese barberry, a type of colorful ornamental plant sold in some nurseries. Rules would allow barberry to be possessed and sold for another year after the ban goes into effect for all other invasives.
There are approximately 9,000 licensed nursery growers and dealers in the state, although it is not clear how many deal in barberry, which also can be easily purchased from dealers over the Internet. The delay in the ban would give "the regulated community time to sell existing stocks, and the ability to transition to alternatives," according to a DEC report.
The agency is taking public comment on its proposed rules through Dec. 23. There will be four public hearings on the proposals, including one at 3 p.m. on Dec. 16 at DEC headquarters on Broadway in Albany.
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Nuisance hit list
See the list of invasive species that would be banned or regulated in New York online at http://www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/93848.html