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'Terrible for the environment.' Why the USDA killed a wild pig found in Tunbridge

A photo of a brown pig in some trees.
USDA Wildlife Services
/
Courtesy
This trail camera image dated Aug. 7, 2023 shows a wild boar found in Tunbridge, Vermont.

A few weeks ago, a woman in Tunbridge spotted a pig in her yard that didn't belong there.

It looked like a wild boar — animals native to Asia and Europe.

She took a photo and reported it the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Ten days later, the agency found the pig and killed it, says USDA biologist Brendan Popp.

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He says there are millions of wild pigs in the United States, but Vermont doesn’t have an established breeding population.

"Vermont is currently what we would consider pig-free, and we’re trying to keep it that way," Popp said. "Wild pigs are really bad for agriculture — they cause billions of dollars of damage every year. They carry diseases that can spread to domestic pigs, or even to humans. And they’re just terrible for the environment in terms of rooting up habitat, eating bird nests, bird eggs and just causing all sorts of damage."

He says even escaped domestic pigs that aren't recovered by an owner could go feral in time.

A photo of a brown pig in the middle of a lot of greenery in the woods.
USDA Wildlife Services
/
Courtesy
The now-deceased pig in question, seen here in a trail camera image dated Aug. 6, 2023.

Popp is currently waiting for lab results to learn the species of the pig and if it had any transmissible diseases.

The USDA last removed a wild pig from state in Lyndonville in 2019.

Lexi Krupp is a corps member with Report for America, a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and regions.

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Corrected: September 5, 2023 at 2:49 PM EDT
The headline for this story has been updated to reflect that the species of the wild pig is currently unknown.
Lexi covers science and health stories for Vermont Public.