Monday, March 24, 2014

Pigs will fly before I get close to an NC wild boar

Pigs will fly before I get close to an NC wild boar
By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover: Visitor Services Manager

Rarely does our area appear in Yahoo, MSN, New York Times, CNN, and other national media, but last month it happened when hunter Jett Webb of Conetoe stalked and killed a wild boar weighing over 500 pounds.

Although he and fellow hunters at the White Oak Ranch Hunting Club in Bertie County had been tracking the giant pig for months, even he was shocked at the immenseness of the animal. He took down his prey with one shot, which was a good thing because wild boars can be extremely aggressive.

Last year the Rosedale neighborhood in Elizabeth City was plagued with wild pigs that destroyed yards looking for pecans and other food. Residents said it looked like their lawns had been plowed with a tractor every morning.

Much speculation arose about where the pests came from and when they would leave.

North Carolina has a feral pig population problem, and it is getting worse statewide. In 2011, all North Carolina wild pigs were declared feral, and in 2012, laws changed to allow any means possible to control the invasive animal population. Now, there is no limit, no closed season, and they can be hunted with lights and silencers at night, in all 100 counties. Only a valid hunting license is required.

During the early twentieth century, wild boars were brought from Europe to the counties of Wake, Johnston, Wayne, Graham, and others in order to populate games reserves for hunting. The scavengers were natives of northern and southern Europe, the Mediterranean region, Asia, and Russia. Boar hair was used in toothbrushes and hairbrushes until the 1930s.

Tigers and wolves are the main natural enemies of the wild hogs who are known to be courageous and fierce in battle. The males of the species live a solitary life except during mating season from November through January when they join the groups, or sounds, of females and piglets. Pregnancy lasts for about 115 days when four to six babies are born, and they have three litters per year.

The long, frightening tusks which protrude from the bottom lip are a scary sight, and males have an extra set on top with which they sharpen the others. Wild boars average 110-200 pounds, but can reach up to 800 pounds.

Many people claim that the meat of the wild hog is better than that of its domestic cousin, and it can also be purchased on line with other wild delicacies. The challenging hunting experience has attracted many to North Carolina, but the negatives outweigh the positive for most people.

Because they are omnivores and will eat just about anything, farmers and landowners are concerned about the damage they do. Along with their destructive nature, they bring diseases and parasites, which can potentially harm animals and people. Some scientists warn that these problems could eventually get into the domestic pig population.

I can assure you that before I would go looking for a wild boar, pigs would have to fly.
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