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Wild Boars Blamed for Upstate Horse Attacks

Close-up of the tusk from the wild boar shot in the upstate horse pasture.

An investigation by the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division into a rash of mysterious horse injuries in the Upstate concludes that wild boars are to blame. An upstate man shot and killed a large boar in a horse pasture on December 12, which seems to offer a common-sense conclusion that at least one wild boar was acting aggressively. The story of the horse injuries unfolded in Spartanburg County, requiring three horses to be euthanized due to injury. Since wild hogs are already present in every county of the state, horse owners are watching this development closely since feral hog numbers have the potential to increase over time.
The boar that was killed is estimated to be 500-pounds with three-inch tusks. If you aren’t a hunter, you might not hear the tales year after year of very large wild boars being killed with greater frequency. Some of these wild boars possess the stealth to avoid detection long enough to grow to maturity, and they are most likely nocturnal. A good defense for horse owners is to have a stout fence around their pasture since large boars are not likely to jump a fence or to dig under it. While it’s likely that the aggressive tactics of the upstate wild boar documented by SLED are rare, wild pigs, in general, will likely remain on the landscape.
A book I picked up in 2011 called the Year of the Pig documented feral hogs across the Southeast. In the book’s forward, Steven Ditchkoff writes that Hernando de Soto brought the first pigs to North America in 1539. They were already known as a species of survivors, and the explorers relied on the fact that a source of pork meat would be readily available upon return visits. Utilizing their short gestation period, a sow pig can have three litters in 14-months under normal conditions. Hunters are unable to keep up with the boom in feral hog numbers, and modern trapping techniques seem to offer the best prescription.
In Year of the Pig, Mark Bailey writes that the feral hog, or Sus scrofa, is not a game species to be managed for sustained harvest. “Feral pigs are an invasive, exotic, and ecological nightmare and are a scourge on the southern landscape straight out of Pandora’s box,” said Bailey. “The answer to solving the wild hog dilemma lies in concerted efforts of public education, landowner incentives and persistent management programs on a landscape scale.” Total eradication of feral hogs is likely to be an unattainable goal, but it’s worth a try.
Veteran hunters can tell over time that things change in the landscape, and that game populations can increase or dwindle in continuous cycles. The proliferation of coyotes is something that changed big game populations of white-tailed deer. Studies are underway at places like the Savannah River Site for scientific evidence, but common sense conclusions on this subject are nearly unanimous. For example, just a couple of decades ago, if a deer was wounded during a late evening still hunt and it escaped into the darkness of the woodlands without a trace, a savvy hunter would return at first light in hopes of retrieving the venison if the overnight temperatures were cool enough. If a deer is left overnight in the woods today, there is a good chance what the hunter will recover in the a.m. is a carcass mauled by coyotes.
Another fact that hunters take with them in the forest is that feral hogs and packs of coyotes could be a real threat to someone. Everyone should be safely armed with cell phones, flashlights, and guns but they still need to be mindful of wildlife. Alligators are present in some habitats and they have long presented hunters with a similar threat of being mindful of their steps. For example, walking through the hardwood bottomlands of the Savannah River swamp, I once encountered a mature alligator in a pothole of water right where I was scouting. My instincts told me that I could find a better location to set up for an evening still hunt for deer, requiring me to exit the same area after dark.
“In South Carolina, there is no closed hunting season for wild hogs on private lands with a valid hunting license during daylight hours,” said DNR biologist Mark Carroll. “Hogs can be hunted at night on a registered property using any legal firearm, including the use of bait, electronic calls, artificial lights and night vision. The property must be registered online at the SCDNR website.” Even when hunters can remove wild hogs, they leave behind a damaged landscape due to their rooting, wallows and rubs.
Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at LowcountryOutdoors.com

Jeff Dennis
Jeff Dennis, Contributor (385 Posts)

Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at www.LowcountryOutdoors.com