|When I first saw them, this is exactly what the wild boar looked like.|
On the way home, I felt disappointed with myself for turning around when I saw the wild hogs. I've been working on being more fearless, and didn't know if I was being a scaredy cat or being sensible. How dangerous are wild boars? So when I got home, I started researching. The facts are shocking, but not for reasons you'd expect.
Attacks of hikers or campers are exceedingly rare. Wild boar are highly wary of people, mostly run away, and probably the only reason I saw them was I was being quiet and it was late afternoon. If you corner them, they will defend themselves though, which is why hunters and their dogs may get injured on occasion-- though there have only been four deaths since the 1800's. After learning this, wild boar definitely go on my list of things not to be afraid of!
What I was shocked to learn about is all the horrible environmental destruction caused by wild boar. Specifically to salamanders and ladyslipper orchids! How maddening! Wild boar in Georgia are invasive pests that dig up vegetation in large areas of forest as they root around for acorns, plants, and even little critters to eat, and they wallow in springs and streams which fowls up water sources. Plus they transmit disease. Hogs were introduced to North America as livestock, but became feral upon escaping from captivity. They also interbred with European wild boars that were introduced for hunting, and the wild boars are a hybrid mix of these wild and domesticated types. They certainly don't belong here, and I was glad to read that the DNR has an aggressive control and eradication effort underway.
Really interesting article in the New Yorker on the problem of wild boar:
HOGS WILD. By Frazier, Ian, 12/12/2005, Vol. 81, Issue 40.
How wild boar aren't a problem for hikers:
For hunters, but talks about the Warwoman Wildlife Management Area, where I was hiking: http://www.gameandfishmag.com/2010/10/04/hunting_big-game-hunting_ga_1102_08/
Information about wild boar in the Smokies:
This was a New Years eve solo, out and back, overnight from Warwoman Dell north on the Bartram Trail up towards Windy Gap.