On Christmas Eve wild boar were spotted running in the ravine out back. Three men from a local excavating business spied them. They were excited about their discovery.

I hadn’t realized that there are wild boar in New Hampshire. The sighting made me curious to learn more.

“Escaped private property”

I was surprised to discover that wild boar in New Hampshire are considered “escaped private property.” They belong to the Blue Mountain Forest Association, which is a private hunting preserve over an hour away, in Croydon, New Hampshire.

Because these boar have legal status as private property, they can only be hunted with permission of the owner. Escaped boar are considered to be “running at large.”

According to the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department permission is usually granted but “legal hunting hours” must be observed. Interestingly, Fish and Game adds: “feral wild boar are limited in number and are difficult to locate without local knowledge.”

These wild pigs clearly have bureaucracy on their side.

Years ago, residents were allowed to kill the boar on sight. However that incentivized locals to poach. Fish and Game director Glenn Normandeau explained that “people would put piles of corn outside the fence and cut holes to lure hogs outside and kill them. So we got rid of that law.” (Source: Concord Monitor)

Roaming wild boar are most commonly found in Grafton, Cheshire, and Sullivan counties, according to the Fish and Game Department.

From Germany’s Black Forest

The Blue Mountain Forest Association preserve is more commonly known as Corbin Park. According to Valley News it is the only private hunting preserve in New Hampshire and memberships cost well into 5-figures.

The preserve spans some 25,000 square miles and was created by 19th-century railroad entrepreneur Austin Corbin.

Corbin imported the wild Eurasian boar from Germany’s Black Forest. Like the elk that roam the park, the boar are not native to New Hampshire.

According to author Mary T. Kronenwetter, some of the boar escaped in 1938 when a hurricane blew down portions of the preserve’s fencing.

Interestingly, the boar’s forest companions included bison. Kronenwetter quotes from Ernest Baynes’s out-of-print book about Corbin Park:

Of all the works of the late Mr. Austin Corbin, the preservation of that herd of bison was the one that would earn his country’s deepest gratitude. His experiment led to the founding of the American Bison Society and was connected, directly or otherwise, with the formation of some of our national parks.

Kronenwetter also notes that once Corbin’s game preserve had been stocked, that wolves and mountain lions, which had previously disappeared, returned. Beavers also made a comeback.

One of my favorite experiences of winter is spying a beaver surveilling the surroundings from his surefooted perch on a small ice floe. The beaver will dive underwater, resurface and clamber back on the floe repeatedly.

An expensive hobby

A couple of days after wild boar were spotted in the ravine, a California newspaper ran an interesting story about millionaire George Gordon Moore who had in the 1920s imported wild boar from Europe.

Throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s wild Eurasian boar were imported to America for sport. Over the years these boar escaped, had romantic dalliances, and spread throughout 35 states.

“We can’t barbecue our way out”

While spotting boar locally is entertaining, in some areas of the country they are known for the damage they create. They help themselves to crops, eat endangered species, and spread disease according to the USDA.

While public hunting of boar is allowed in many states, the agency contends that “we can’t barbecue our way out” of the problem and that a coordinated national plan is needed.

In the meantime I hope I’ll have another opportunity to spy these furry pigs as they make a run for it.


Photo credit: Young wild boar by Michael Gäbler, courtesy of a Creative Commons 3.0 Unported license (CC by 3.0)