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April 12, 2006

Wild hog sightings rare, but still reported

One year after the killing of two Russian wild boars near Moravia, fears of feral hogs getting a foothold in Appanoose County have yet to materialize — though Iowa DNR conservation officer Randy McPherren said he had a credible report of wild hog activity near the Missouri border.

McPherren said he received a report two weeks ago of hog foot prints suggesting there were about 10 of the animals. They were headed south on the west side of the Chariton River near Coal City.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Iowa Department of Agriculture are concerned about a wild boar population gaining footholds in the state.

“There’s trouble brewing, and the stage is set for ecological disaster,” read a 2005 release from the DNR, “Exotic Russian hogs have invaded southwest Iowa’s Riverton Wildlife Unit.”

The Riverton hogs are believed to have escaped from a hunting preserve located in nearby Fremont County. The DNR started a hunting and trapping effort there to wipe out the non-native animals.

Fears of such an invasion in Appanoose and surrounding counties came to light after Bill Topp, a farmer in Monroe County just northeast of Moravia, killed two Russian wild boar one year ago.

At that time, McPherren said he has received a number of reports of wild hog sightings in Appanoose County and accounts of more than a half dozen killed so far. Some accounts fit the description of wild boar and others in the southern sections of Appanoose County sound like domestic hogs gone feral.

The Department of Agriculture is concerned, said McPherren, because the wild hogs can be a source of contagion for domestic livestock.

An Iowa farmer recently contracted brucellosis after seeing a wild boar among his sows. The brucellosis apparently spread from the wild boar to his sows — then to him.

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