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Pigs invade Tybee Island

Residents register complaints about destructive guests.

By Bret Bell
Savannah Morning News

Tybee Island craves tourists this time of year.

A wild hog peers through the grass in the woods on Ossabaw Island. The hogs, which are not indigenous, are not the most eco-friendly inhabitants of the island. John Carrington/Savannah Morning News
Just not this kind.

A small group of pigs apparently has taken up residence on the north end of the island. They've proven to be unwelcome guests.

Tybee Police Capt. Chris Case said the department has received a number of calls over the past month from residents complaining about the island swine. The wild creatures have torn up yards, trampled plants and terrorized local cats and dogs.

"They've done some damage, but they haven't threatened people so far," Case said. "If it reaches that level, we will take some steps."

One of the pigs took an interest in Tybee resident David Turner's yard on Eagle's Nest Drive a few weeks ago. Over the course of about 10 days, it dug foot-deep holes across a 300-square-foot section of his yard.

No big deal, said the English native. Turner was going to till his yard this spring anyway.

"He completely gutted it, the little bastard," Turner said. "But he saved me about $120 on the rental of a tiller."

Turner said the pig was about 3-4 feet long and 2 feet tall, with thick, coarse brownish-red hair – "bloody ugly, " he said.

"He'd look really good on a pit with an apple in it."

Case believes the pigs swam over from neighboring Little Tybee Island, a short trip to the south end of Tybee. Parts of the large, uninhabited Little Tybee have large populations of feral pigs, which are good swimmers.

Others have suggested the pigs migrated down the Savannah River to Tybee from perhaps Cockspur or connecting islands, which would explain why they have taken up residence on the north end of the island.

Despite the relative closeness of the creatures' habitat, this is the first time Case can remember hearing about pigs on Tybee.

The feral pigs are a crossbreed of escaped farm pigs brought over by English colonists and wild boars later released into the wild by hunters.

"And we've come to find the pigs are the most prolific reproducers in the animal world and can do terrible things to the environment," said Clay Culver, a Tybee kayak guide who occasionally comes across large populations of swine on Little Tybee.

The Department of Natural Resources considers the pigs destructive nuisances, and has almost no restrictions on hunting them on private land.

But the department doesn't have enough manpower to take care of Tybee's problem, and discharging a firearm is illegal for residents within city limits. That leaves the matter up to police, who are taking a wait-and-see approach.

"If the numbers gets too large and the damage too great, then we will come in with hunters," Case said.


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