OLYMPIA – If you see a wild pig on the Olympic Peninsula, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) wants to know about it.
Jack Smith, regional WDFW wildlife manager, said he's received an increasing number of reports from people who have seen – and sometimes shot – wild pigs in an area stretching from the Quinault Indian Reservation to the Wynochee River valley.
"We're concerned that these critters could be spreading," Smith said. "Left unchecked, they can be extremely destructive to native vegetation and wildlife species."
Smith isn't talking about ordinary pigs that just slipped away from the farm. The ones he's concerned about can weigh 300 pounds or more. Sporting long guard hair, they are dark brown to black in color and have a generally scruffy appearance.
They also have tusks like a European wild boar and can be dangerous when confronted.
"Like wild boars around the world, these guys aren't known for having a good temperament," Smith said.
In fact, Washington's wild pigs probably share the same lineage, said Steve Pozzanghera, deputy assistant director for the WDFW wildlife program, who explains that at least one game farm imported wild boars from eastern Europe to the Olympic Peninsula in the 1930s.
"The pigs we're hearing about are probably the descendants of those imported boars and feral pigs that escaped from area farms years ago," Pozzanghera said.
Because WDFW currently considers the animals to be "feral domestics," they can be hunted without a license, Pozzanghera said.
And that, apparently, is what an increasing number of people are doing.
Smith said he had heard about members of the Quinault tribe hunting wild pigs on the reservation for years but has recently received reports of pigs being taken by nontribal hunters from Humptulips to the Grisdale logging camp site on the Wynochee. The clearest evidence was a photo of a slain pig Smith received from the owner of a sporting goods store in Montesano.
"I've heard of about 10 taken since Mother's Day," Smith said. "If wild pigs are proliferating on the Peninsula, we need to know about it."
If you see or shoot a wild pig on the Olympic Peninsula, Smith asks that you contact him at (360) 249-1222. If, however, you're interested in information about where to hunt wild pigs, Smith asks that you instead call one of the sporting goods stores in the Grays Harbor area.
"I'm really not interested in becoming a wild pig hunting guide," he said, "and I know that sporting goods dealers in Montesano and Aberdeen have more information than anybody about where and how these pigs can best be hunted."