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Pig shot in northeast North Dakota turns out to be domestic escapee and not feral

As these things usually do, the incident created considerable buzz on social media, and a Facebook post had been shared nearly 600 times as of Friday afternoon.

Wild pig.jpg
The pig shot Thursday, April 13, 2023, north of Tolna, North Dakota, turned out to be an escaped domestic animal and not a feral hog.
Contributed/Nelson County Sheriff's Department Facebook page

GRAND FORKS — A pig that was shot and killed Thursday in Nelson County north of Tolna, North Dakota, after attempting to attack a farmer several times was an escaped domestic hog and not a feral pig as initially feared, a Game and Fish Department spokesman said.

The farmer “ended up shooting it to protect himself,” Bill Haase, assistant wildlife chief for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Bismarck, told the Herald on Friday afternoon.

The incident is a good reminder, Haase said, for people if they see pigs on the loose, to report it to either Game and Fish, U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services or the North Dakota Department of Agriculture’s Animal Health Division.

“All three of our agencies work closely together to figure out if it’s a domestic pig that’s loose, or if it’s actually a wild pig, and we haven’t had any reports of wild pigs in years now,” Haase said. “Each of these cases that we have gotten in recent years have been domestic pigs that got loose, and we were able to find the owners.”


As these things usually do, the incident created considerable buzz on social media after the Nelson County Sheriff’s Department posted a report on its Facebook page about “what appears to be a wild pig” that was “put down” north of Tolna. As of Friday afternoon, the post had been shared nearly 600 times.

Reader comments suggested the pig was either someone’s pet or a domestic animal, which ultimately turned out to be the case. Haase said he wasn’t sure how far the pig had strayed before it was shot.

James Myhre, district game warden for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in New Rockford, responded to the incident and took the pig to Bismarck early Friday morning, Haase said. After determining it wasn’t feral, Game and Fish then transferred the pig to the USDA Wildlife Services lab, he said.

While the farmer who shot the pig was within his rights to do so, given the circumstances, Haase said, the standard protocol is to report suspected wild pig sightings rather than shoot the pig.

“The reasoning behind that is that in other states that have had issues with wild pigs becoming more prevalent, what happens is it’s something where people like to hunt them, and so they want to release them and have them on the landscape as another hunting opportunity,” Haase said. “That’s certainly something that we’re not interested in having, and so that’s why we don’t allow that.”

Anyone who observes or suspects the presence of feral pigs should call local law enforcement, the North Dakota Board of Animal Health at (701) 328-2655, the Game and Fish Department at (701) 328-6300 or USDA Wildlife Services at (701) 250-4405.

Brad Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and has been the Grand Forks Herald's outdoors editor since 1998.

Besides his role as an outdoors writer, Dokken has an extensive background in northwest Minnesota and Canadian border issues and provides occasional coverage on those topics.

Reach him at bdokken@gfherald.com, by phone at (701) 780-1148 or on Twitter at @gfhoutdoor.
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