Wild Hogs Wreak Havoc in Foothill Communities

August 14, 2008 12:30:02 AM PDT
Nancy Harmelin said: "At first I thought they were a prowler outside. I was afraid to turn on the lights." The prowlers that tore up Nancy and Glenn Harmelin's property are frightening looking and weigh as much as 200 pounds, but they're not human.Wild pigs that look like this are wreaking havoc around Ahwahnee. Every night for two weeks straight a whole herd of pigs in search of grubs and worms dug up the Harmelin's drip irrigation system and more. Glenn Harmerlin said: "They just tear up the ground like they are Rota tillers. They just trash our lawn, trash our gardens and everything else, really make a mess of things."

Not far away, the owners of River Creek golf course fear pigs chased out the mountains by wildfires don't come back here. This brown grass marks one of the spots where they dug trenches as deep four feet last time. Golf course owner Randy Hurst said: "They did a lot of damage in the fairways, lots of damage and the ruffs, luckily they didn't get on the greens. Everyday we spent hours repairing the damage. It took a while for it to grow back."

The Department of Fish and Game says normally this time of year the wild pigs venture out of steep terrain and into residential areas in search of food. But with this year's drought, they've already had dozens of complaints from people living in the foothills of Madera County." Some of those frustrated property owners have called on hunter Cole Masuen for help.

Masuen said:"They are so strong and fast. They're faster than a dog." His photo albums contain some of the fierce boars he and his teenage son have tracked down and killed. Masuen said: "They're definitely wary of people unless they're cornered, then they'll fight otherwise they're going to take off. It's more they're just so destructive around people's homes."

Fish and Game biologist Clu Cotter says the wild pigs are a combination of domestic pigs and Russian boars imported years ago. Adaptable and smart, he says when there's extensive property damage, the homeowner has little choice. Clu Cotter said: "The hunter is never going to get all of the pigs. So, the hope is you get one of two pigs and that they go away." Even if they do go away, Cotter says until the first rain, the wild pigs will move on and become somebody else's problem.

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