Feral hogs have invaded suburban Atlanta, and, according to locals, they’ve essentially got the area under siege.
Reuters reports that at least four feral pigs, which can grow up to 400 pounds, are running wild in Lithonia, Georgia, a suburb just 19 miles outside the city. Police have enlisted the help of a trapper, but in the meantime, residents must learn to live with the hairy menace.
For families, that’s easier said than done. The tusked intruders have left many little ones too afraid to leave the house, and even some parents are worried about how they’d fare in a confrontation. “My children are petrified,” said Taneisha Danner, who told WSB-TV that she was now concerned about walking her children to the school bus in the morning. ”I’m sorry. I’m not built to fight off wildlife.”
According to biologist Charlie Killmaster, who works with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, wild hogs can be dangerous under certain circumstances. If cornered, they may charge. He compared a sow protecting her piglets to a wild bear protecting her cubs.
“If they feel threatened, they can become aggressive, they can bite.” Killmaster told the Associated Press. “But in nearly all cases, steering clear of them is all you need to do.”
While locals are livid, the pigs don’t seem to mind their new surroundings one bit. Reuters describes watching one hog feast on trash before wandering into a family’s back yard for a nap. After a quick snooze, the pig rejoined its friends and sauntered back into the woods. Had the situation involved something a little more on the fuzzy side, like a fox, it might have made for a Kodak moment. Instead, the town just wants the pests gone.
Lithonia isn’t the first suburb to find itself unexpectedly beset by feral hogs. Thanks to their desirability as game animals, hunters have — often illegally —spread the pigs around the country. There have been reports of wild hogs in 45 states, and counties as far North as upstate New York have been forced to deal with the unwanted guests. That’s especially bad news for farmers, as the hogs are one of the most destructive species to the local environment.
Worse, they’re hard to dislodge. The pigs are prolific breeders, and seem to quickly catch on to humanity’s attempts to get rid of them. The New York Times, covering a 2012 infestation, reported that “with each extension of the traps, the pigs [in rural New York] have grown wary, staying away for a couple of nights before returning to nibble the bait.”
Lithonia’s hogs appear to be no exception, and some residents have even joked that the pigs are settling in for good. “This is their home,” joked Taneisha Danner, who’s property has occasionally played home to the hogs. “We’re just visiting.”