Final destination of wild pig in surf still secret

The fate of the pig that swam ashore near Station 26 Friday on Sullivan's Island was still unknown on Tuesday. Under state law, the pig can either be killed or kept in a pen. Town law prohibits keeping of swine.

The fate of the wild pig swimming offshore at Sullivan's Island remained a mystery on Tuesday.

Police officers corralled the squealing swine near Station 26 on Friday in response to a call from a vacationing Seattle family.

Witnesses described the pig as tired-looking and ornery.

"It was relocated and taken care of according to state law. That's all the information I can give you," Police Chief Danny Howard said.

State law allows two options in such situations. Either the wild pig is killed or it is kept in an enclosed pen, said state Department of Natural Resources spokesman Brett Witt.

"We want to make sure they are not released back into the wild," he said.

Witt said he did not know what happened to the Sullivan's Island pig.

Town law prohibits keeping of swine.

The story of the paddling pig unfolded when a son of novelist Josephine Humphreys plucked it from the surf, she said.

William Hutcheson, 39, was visiting with his family from Concord, Mass., where he teaches high school biology.

"He was out on the beach that day with his wife and two boys, so it turned into the highlight of their visit! They left for home this morning," Humphreys said in an e-mail.

Hutcheson posted a picture of the pig on his Facebook page, where a friend described him as "a bona fide hero!"

The swine was likely caught in the current in the upper reaches of the Wando and/or Cooper rivers and came ashore at the first available location, Town Administrator Andy Benke said Friday.

"This often occurs with wild animals but is more common with deer and alligators," he said.

The state considers wild swine a major problem. Feral pigs are an "ecological train wreck," according to the DNR website.

"They have an unbridled appetite and can destroy hundreds of acres of farmland as well as native plants and wildlife habitat in just a few short nights," the DNR says.

There are an estimated 150,000 feral pigs in the state, and they are found in every county. The free-roaming swine reproduce at a prodigious rate - up to two litters of as many as a dozen piglets a year, the agency says.

The South Carolina Wild Hog Task Force is developing a statewide plan for managing the problem. It is a partnership of state and federal agencies, universities and other interested public-sector groups, according to Clemson Cooperative Extension Service.

The goal of the group is to reduce the wild hog population and impacts to an "acceptable" level, but what that would be has yet to be determined.

Reach Prentiss Findlay at 937-5711.