Wednesday, December 11, 2013
By Doug Harlow firstname.lastname@example.org
MERCER -- State wildlife officials want to know how a Eurasian wild boar with long, thick hair and 2-inch tusks ended up in Somerset County recently.
A Eurasian wild boar killed in Mercer recently is raising questions among state wildlife officials who want to know how it got to Maine.
The boar, weighing between 150 and 180 pounds, was shot and killed by a local hunter the day after Thanksgiving when the animal attacked and killed a domestic pig off Fredericks Corner Road near the Norridgewock town line, Game Warden Josh Bubier said.
"He was typical of what you'd see if you watched a wild hog hunting show," he said. "He was thick and deep through the front part of his chest area with a narrow back, not like a normal domestic pig. The head is quite a bit different, with a sloped head, not a pronounced stubby nose.
"It definitely has the traits of a Russian Eurasian boar. It was much different than a domestic pig. This hog has thick, thick hair, more like a wild animal would have."
Kendall Marden, a wildlife biologist with the state Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, said there is no doubt that the animal was a wild boar, not a farm pig gone wild. The problem, he said, is that officials don't know where it came from.
He said the only time state wildlife officials have come across a wild boar in Maine is when the animal has been traced back to a licensed farm or game preserve.
"The Eurasian or Russian strains tend to be darker and hairier and have larger tusks, and this one fits that description," Marden said.
"It appeared to be a younger animal, so the tusks were only a couple inches long, but enough to do some serious damage to the domestic pig, that's for sure," he said.
He said there are a couple of farms or hunting preserves that are regulated and licensed by the Department of Agriculture in Maine to raise the Eurasian strain of hog for game. He said the closest one is in Dixmont, about 40 miles away, too far for it to have wandered into Mercer unnoticed.
"It certainly wasn't born in the wild here in Maine," Marden said. "There's a vast range of the United States where they are born in the wild. In the Northeast, for the most part, they are associated with fenced-in areas or farmed. The trouble is we don't know the origin.
"It's quite possible that somebody may have brought the pig into the state. Our concern is that people would do that and not realize the issues caused by the predation on native animals and habitat destruction."
Bubier said the wild boar had not been castrated and had no markings, tags or tattoos on the ears, mouth and lips indicating it had been raised commercially for a farm or a hunting preserve.
He said a male domestic pig was injured seriously and later died in the boar attack, and three or four of the other pigs in the pen had gashes on their hides from the boar.
"A farmer had what looked like a giant pot-bellied pig and (it) really can't defend itself too well," Bubier said.
"I suspect that this wild pig was looking to breed. There was some sows in the pen area as well," he said.
Hunter Shawn Lambert, of Norridgewock, said the animal was aggressive and already had attacked the domestic hogs when he called Bubier for permission to shoot it.
"I walked up to it and it charged towards us," Lambert said. "Every time we tried to get close to the pig pen, it charged right at us."
He said he used a .30-06 deer rifle to kill the animal.
Larry Anderson of Medford, Mass., who owns the land and the domestic pigs that were attacked, confirmed late Friday that the male pig had died after being injured by the razorback.
He said his pigs are a rare breed called American Guinea hogs.
Marden, the state wildlife biologist, said the term "wild boar" is a loose term used mostly in the South to describe the many genetic combinations of the domestic pink pig and the black and brown Eurasian or Russian swine.
The strain was introduced to North America by the Spanish in the early 16th century for hunting, according to a study published by Westinghouse Savannah River Co. and the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory.
Marden said game wardens took the carcass to the Maine Department of Agriculture for testing for rabies and other possible diseases that could affect people and livestock.
"They are a pretty invasive species that we don't want to see here," Marden said.
Doug Harlow -- 612-2367