Chester H. Hall III of Royalston displays what he believes is a wild Russian boar that was hit by a vehicle Wednesday morning on Route 2 in Shirley. (GEORGE BARNES)
By George Barnes TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
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LANCASTER- There have been deer, moose and even bear killed on Route 2, but a Russian wild boar hit by a vehicle Wednesday morning was something new to everyone involved.
Trooper David Procopio, a spokesman for the state police, said yesterday that a trooper on the westbound lane heading into work about 6:30 a.m. noticed a large animal, obviously injured, on the side of the highway just before Shirley Road in Lancaster. The trooper, who was in the passing lane in heavy traffic, had to go to the next exit and loop back around to check out the animal. When he returned, the animal was still there. Its hind end and legs were injured, but the animal was still moving.
Trooper Procopio said the animal was suffering and posed a risk to passing motorists if it got back into the travel lane. He said it was decided to euthanize it.
State police then created a rolling roadblock to keep vehicles from the area until a trooper was able to kill the animal. Police were unable to find the motorist who hit it.
Chester H. Hall III of Royalston was contacted to take away the carcass. Mr. Hall is known locally as a coyote hunter. He said he was offered what he was told was a pig for coyote bait.
"I went to pick up a wild pig and there was a full-blown Russian boar," he said.
The boar was about 200 pounds, dark brown and slightly reddish in color. Mr. Hall said it looked to him like the classic image of a werewolf with a hump on its back and a long snout. The animal had tusks but they were barely visible because they were broken.
Mr. Hall said he was surprised because wild boars are not supposed to be found in Massachusetts.
"I spoke to a biologist and he said it's only the third time he has heard of one in Massachusetts," he said.
Mr. Hall said it is unclear where the boar may have come from. He said it might have been living in the Oxbow Wildlife area not far from where it was killed.
There are wild boar populations in New Hampshire, Vermont and Pennsylvania, but the animals are rarely seen in other parts of the Northeast.
Russian wild boars were introduced to New Hampshire in the 1890s at the 20,000-acre Corbin wild game preserve. Mr. Hall said some escaped when a fence was blown down during a hurricane.
Mr. Hall said he has hunted bear, but he would not want to meet a wild boar up close.
"They can be very nasty and aggressive," he said. "I would rather see a 500-pound bear in the woods than a boar."
Mr. Hall said most people who hunt boars do so from a tree stand.
The animal hit on Route 2 had been in good health, although it had ticks all over it. Mr. Hall said the boar had been feeding on apples, chokecherries and acorns.
He said that after seeing that it was a large boar, rather than a pig, he changed his mind about using it for coyote bait. He said it will now become steaks, pork chops and sausage.
Monte D. Chandler of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Amherst said there are no feral pigs, feral swine or Russian boar populations in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
"If they are present, they are something that escaped from someone," he said.
Lisa Capone, a spokeswoman for the state Executive office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, agreed with Mr. Chandler's assessment.
"There is no native population of boars or feral hogs in Massachusetts," she said.
In other parts of the country there are large feral swine populations.
"The USDA is monitoring them throughout the United States," Mr. Chandler said.
Wild boars, like the one killed on Route 2, can cause significant damage to crops and other plants, even uprooting small trees. Their aggressive behavior also poses a danger to people who encounter them in the wild.
Mr. Chandler said officials would determine if there is a population of wild swine in the state - if there were reports of the wild animals uprooting plants. The reports would then be investigated to determine if there are wild swine and if they are reproducing in the wild.
"Up to this point there haven't been any reports," he said.