Posted by: Loren Coleman on October 29th, 2008
The Beast of Gevaudan, published by Basset, 1764. Musee Nat. des Arts et Traditions Populaires, Paris, France.
New to the file on “unexpected animals,” there is the one about the at-first misidentified critter found recently in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts State Police say a 200-pound Russian wild boar was euthanized after being struck by a vehicle on a road in Lancaster last week.
Chester H. Hall III of Royalston displays what he believes is a wild Russian boar that was hit by a vehicle on Route 2 in Shirley. (Photo: George Barnews, Worcester Telegram)
A wild boar in the Bay State was a big surprise to state wildlife experts. They say although some wild boars are known to live in northern New England, there never has been a native population of feral swine in Massachusetts.
The animal wandered down Route 2, was apparently struck by a vehicle and had to be euthanized, out of concern for public saftey.
Around 6:30 a.m. Wednesday, October 22, 2008, a state trooper happened upon the creature. He thought the animal was a “juvenile moose,” at first glace, said David Procopio, spokesman for Massachusetts State Police.
The large, feral pig was injured in the hind end and legs by an unknown vehicle and driver.
“There was concern that it would walk back into the roadway, and out of concern for public safety and the concern of the animal a choice was made to euthanize it,” Procopio said.
State police set up a rolling road block in the breakdown lane of Route 2 to slow traffic as the pig was put down with a gunshot.
Chester H. Hall III of Royalston was contacted to take away the carcass. Hall is known locally as a coyote hunter. He said he was offered what he was told was a pig for coyote bait.
“I went to pick up a wild pig and there was a full-blown Russian boar,” he said.
The boar was about 200 pounds, dark brown and slightly reddish in color. Hall said it looked to him like the classic image of a werewolf with a hump on its back and a long snout. The animal had tusks but they were barely visible because they were broken.
The modern image of a werewolf actually does look similar to the overall body design of a wild boar. Above is the Wii werewolf from Nibris, a game studio based in Cracow, Poland, to be found in their game entitled Sadness.
Hall said he was surprised because wild boars are not supposed to be found in Massachusetts.
“I spoke to a biologist and he said it’s only the third time he has heard of one in Massachusetts,” he said.
Hall said it is unclear where the boar may have come from. He said it might have been living in the Oxbow Wildlife area not far from where it was killed.
There are wild boar populations in New Hampshire, Vermont and Pennsylvania, but the animals are rarely seen in other parts of the Northeast.
Russian wild boars were introduced to New Hampshire in the 1890s at the 20,000-acre Corbin wild game preserve. Hall said some escaped when a fence was blown down during a hurricane.
Hall said he has hunted bear, but he would not want to meet a wild boar up close.
“They can be very nasty and aggressive,” he said. “I would rather see a 500-pound bear in the woods than a boar.”
Hall said most people who hunt boars do so from a tree stand.
The animal hit on Route 2 had been in good health, although it had ticks all over it. Hall said the boar had been feeding on apples, chokecherries and acorns.
He said that after seeing that it was a large boar, rather than a pig, he changed his mind about using it for coyote bait. He said it will now become steaks, pork chops and sausage.
Monte D. Chandler of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Amherst said there are no feral pigs, feral swine or Russian boar populations in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
“If they are present, they are something that escaped from someone,” he said.
Lisa Capone, a spokeswoman for the state Executive office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, agreed with Chandler’s assessment.
“There is no native population of boars or feral hogs in Massachusetts,” she said.
In other parts of the country there are large feral swine populations.
“The USDA is monitoring them throughout the United States,” Mr. Chandler said.
Wild boars, like the one killed on Route 2, can cause significant damage to crops and other plants, even uprooting small trees. Their aggressive behavior also poses a danger to people who encounter them in the wild.
Chandler said officials would determine if there is a population of wild swine in the state — if there were reports of the wild animals uprooting plants. The reports would then be investigated to determine if there are wild swine and if they are reproducing in the wild.
“Up to this point there haven’t been any reports,” he said.
“By virtue of seeing a hog you’re going to want to avoid it,” said Chandler, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Amherst. In the unlikely event that another boar is spotted, wildlife managing agencies should be contacted so that they could keep track of incidents and trends in order to “re-examine if there’s a surviving population in Massachusetts,” Chandler said.
For more on werewolves, see…
which is a newly published of the classic in hardback, The Book of Werewolves by Sabine Baring-Gould, with a new introduction by yours truly, Loren Coleman.