Field Guide: Urban Pig Hunting
Should wild pigs ever determine that your yard is a nice place to root, dig, wallow, knock over potted plants and spread their giardia and brucellosis, you have a few options. You could let them have their way. You could spend a lot of money building a fence. Or you could hunt them. We talked to expert hunters to find out about option three.
The Hawaiian feral pig, Sus scrofa, is a hybrid of the cute, little Polynesian pigs that the ancient Hawaiians brought to the Islands, the bristly European boars introduced by Western seafarers, and multiple generations of escapees from local hog farms. Oahu’s feral pigs are generally smaller than their colossal, 200-plus-pound, Neighbor-Island counterparts, but they are savvier about hunters, and thus more wily. You have your work cut out for you.
In Oahu’s 13 designated public hunting areas, one pig per hunter per day is the rule. On private property, there’s no limit. Go hog wild.
Out of the question. Discharge a gun in a residential area, and you’ll be sitting on the curb in handcuffs telling HPD about your poor, decimated sweet potatoes and how you once had a lawn.
Dogs and knives
The preferred method of pig hunting in Hawai‘i. It’s horrible for the pig, fun for the dogs (until they get gored by a boar) and far more effective than bullets in the thick underbrush where pigs dwell. For you, the home pig hunter, it’s risky. The chaos that would ensue as your pack of killers chased a pig through your neighborhood could easily dwarf any problems the pig alone caused.
Bows and arrows
You don camouflage, set up a hunting blind in a tree and wait. The upside is that your kitchen is nearby. With any luck you can run in, grab a beer and scamper back into your tree without missing the shot. The downside is that a pig struck by an arrow hardly ever falls down immediately. It runs off, and if it doesn’t run into the brush, you’ll be chasing a hemorrhaging ungulate through your neighborhood. This could be awkward.
A bad choice. Just imagine a pig hanging by one leg, shrieking wildly in the middle of the night, and traumatizing the neighborhood children. Also, snares prolong the cruelty of the kill. If anyone in your family belongs to PETA, you’ll never hear the end of it.
A good choice. There are two types: 1) box traps, which are useful for catching small numbers of pigs, and 2) corrals, which can be built to accomodate any number of pigs. Ensuring your trap is large enough to hold all of your pigs at once is key. Any pigs that get away will be on to you. They won’t stop messing up your yard, but they will never, ever fall for the trap. (Live traps also leave you the option of sparing the pig’s life and releasing it somewhere else, perhaps an ex-husband’s neighborhood.)
A motion detector triggers the shutter when your pig appears, and the time and date are recorded. After gathering a few days of such data—voila—you have your pig’s schedule. Now you don’t have to wait in the tree all night long.
Who are we kidding? You’re going to want to call in an expert to do the dirty work. Try the Oahu Pig Hunters Association (330-7788), which has about a dozen members who make house calls. Just keep in mind: you don’t kill it, you don’t get to eat it.