Wild boars showing up in Iowa
DES MOINES -- The wild boar has joined other wild animals, such as bobcats and mountain lions, suddenly showing up in Iowa.
Confirmed reports of the tusk-bearing grunters have been trickling in from southern Iowa in the last year.
They most likely are escapees of hunting preserves or farm hogs gone wild, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources said.
Last summer, Larry Dessner spotted two boars in a soybean field on his farm south of Columbus Junction.
Dresser, who went wild-boar hunting in Oklahoma three years ago, said he never thought of hunting them in Iowa, especially on his own farm.
"My wife was helping me. She chased them back in my direction," Dessner said.
Dresser, a conservation officer from Louisa County, said the animals are not the easiest to kill.
"They are big and ugly, and the front shoulders of the wild boars have a real thick callous to protect them from the tusks of other pigs. I shot them with a high-powered rifle," Dessner said.
He confirmed 21 boars killed in the past year, but hoped deer hunters would be able to shoot more of the dozens roaming Louisa County.
"They're a lot like ghosts," said Bill Ohde, a DNR wildlife biologist from Wapello. "They disappear. They catch on to you and do a good job escaping."
The wild boar are swift, smart and strong. The Russian boar, or the variety imported for hunting, is dark brown or black with long, coarse hair, and grows tusks as long as 6 inches. It can run up to 30 mph and grow up to 500 pounds.
The boars have become a significant problem in southern states such as Texas, where hundreds of thousands of the animals wander the plains. As many as 5 million boars roam the country.
Escaped farm hogs can also grow tusks and appear wild, especially as generations that follow evolve outside captivity.
Even in a state with the most farm hogs in the United States:more than 16 million:it is no laughing matter.
Wild boar reproduce prolifically:two litters of six to eight each year. They damage row crops, dig up soil that eventually erodes, and can carry disease to domestic hogs, according to the DNR.
There are no restrictions on shooting them, said Terry Little, Iowa DNR assistant wildlife chief. "They can be shot at any time or any place," Little said.
Hunters say the animals are good eating. Roast them for loose-meat barbecue or grill the chops for their lean, gamy flavor, the hunters say.