September 30, 2005

BACON ON THE HOOF (via Robert Schwartz):

It's Always Fair Game for Wild Pigs (PATRICIA LEIGH BROWN, September 30, 2005, NY Times)

MICHELLE STRAUB knows what it is like to feel deeply and profoundly nervous. Just hearing the grunts of wild pigs behind shrubs, the rustle of grasses signaling they were near, made her knees shake and her French-manicured nails quiver on the trigger. Only she knows the true terror of the heart that comes from holding a 7-millimeter rifle while bushwacking down steep trails made by potentially ferocious marauding wild pigs and having your husband turn to you to say, "I think I hear something."

Her quarry in these golden Mendocino hills was Sus scrofa, a squat, muscular wild boar with coarse dark hair, hairy ears, a thick armor-like hide and skewers for tusks, which is now overrunning the countryside to become the latest plague of California.

Along with states like Texas, Florida and Hawaii, California has become a prime habitat for pigs, so much so that the state Department of Fish and Game has begun offering advanced wild boar hunting clinics to encourage people like Mrs. Straub, a 29-year-old executive secretary from Santa Rosa, to hunt pigs.

The pigs are a nonnative hybrid species that can run up to 25 miles an hour and whose meat is prized by cooks - Mrs. Straub and her husband, Randy, among them. They flourish in all but two counties of the state, and their moonlit sashaying in search of grubs and acorns along Highway 1 near Carmel has become so treacherous to motorists that the state Department of Transportation put up "Pig Xing" signs last year.

This is California in the cross hairs: a maddening pig Interstate where zigzaggy pig trails lead into dense, burr-ridden canyons, and trampled grasses indicate where pigs have been and gone.

"You think of little domestic pigs at the county fair as pink and cute with a curly tail," Mrs. Straub said. She hired Tim Lockwood, a hunting guide from Santa Rosa, to help her unleash her inner Annie Oakley at 5 a.m. one recent Sunday on a 1,252-acre private ranch. "These pigs are not cute."

We used to come upon javelina skulls in the field in West Texas, some with the tusks looped around and grown through the jaw--even dead they were scary.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 30, 2005 11:10 PM

Wild boars can kill humans, even armed ones.

Before firearms, they had to put a crossarm on boar spears, otherwise there was a risk of an impaled boar going berserk and charging up the impaling spear to slash the spearholder to death with razor-sharp tusks.

Probably because of the slight but real risk of death, boar-hunting was considered great sport.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 30, 2005 11:40 PM

That's what you get for violating the time zone rule.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at September 30, 2005 11:57 PM

How long will enviromentalism survive these little doses of reality?

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at October 1, 2005 2:36 AM

Don't worry, Robert, hippies have always hated pigs.

Posted by: Randall Voth at October 1, 2005 3:59 AM

All living creatures shall be meat to you, the fear and terror of you shall be upon them. . .or words to that effect.

7mm's are always a good choice for anything in the medium game range. There is a kind of perfect balance of sectional density and ballistic efficiency that we find in .270-.284 bullets.

It's nice to hear that the P.R. of California admits that wild pigs are for shooting, one supposes that the cougars they thought were going to eliminate the need for hunter ecology are too busy eating joggers

Posted by: Lou Gots at October 1, 2005 6:38 AM

Cougars aren't dumb - joggers don't have tusks.

Posted by: ratbert at October 1, 2005 9:59 AM

Rat: That is why we need wolves.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at October 1, 2005 10:43 AM

I like that they are encouraging hunting. Learning to safely use firearms was a part of growing up in Nevada and we didn't even dent the deer, duck, goose, quail, dove, rabbit and chukar populations. Who needs wolves close to towns and cities when you can have well-armed, well-trained citizens?

Posted by: Patrick H at October 1, 2005 1:01 PM

Ummm! Roast wild boar. Memories of Umbria.

Posted by: Genecis at October 1, 2005 2:08 PM

A javelina is cute and cuddly compared to a wild boar.

Posted by: jefferson park at October 1, 2005 3:00 PM