Packs of wild hogs have overrun a West Ashley neighborhood off Bees Ferry Road, leaving the safety of what previously were thousands of acres of isolated forest and swamp.

Sightings have been rare but anyone who’s seen the fur-covered super-pigs say they appear fearless.

“I used to come out on the patio at night,” said resident Dewayne Johnson. “Now I’m afraid to.”

The neighborhood being overrun is Autumn Chase/Magnolia Lakes, part of the sprawling Grand Oaks area.

Residents first reported seeing the hogs last fall but say the problem seems to have escalated in the last month as construction of a new cut-through road and an apartment complex behind their neighborhood has taken off.

The pattern so far is that the animals, which can weigh 200 pounds or more, start appearing after 10 p.m. They are also surprisingly quiet in their rooting, residents say, as they begin turning over shallow plots of earth searching for grubs, worms, crickets and other meaty delicacies. Dozens of yards have been hit, some seeing damage right outside bedroom windows. No injuries have so far been reported.

“It looks like a drunken farmer came through with a plow,” Jim Metzger, secretary of the local homeowners association, said in describing the aftermath.

Metzger recently brought news of the pests to the attention of Charleston City Council, asking that something be done to remove them.

Charles Ruth, wildlife biologist with the state Department of Natural Resources, said this was the first incidence he knew of where hogs were attempting to run a neighborhood after woods and agriculture normally is their prime feeding areas. “It was just a matter of time,” he said.

Trapping seems to be the most effective way of controlling a population, Ruth said, but he added that keeping construction active may be the simple solution, if residents can be patient.

“Some of this could be temporary,” he said. “It could stop as soon as it started. Often times the ‘cure’ is more development. The more concrete, the hogs are going to go away.”

Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551.