Wednesday, November 15, 2006

When Pigs Attack

I was looking for the USDA's daily "Hogs and Pigs" numbers this morning when I stumbled upon the following headline from the Daily Mail (UK):

Nurse 'savaged' by enraged giant pig

A pig attacked Mrs. Carolyn Robinson, 51, as she was riding her horse in the New Forest in Hampshire. The pig charged her horse, which threw her to the ground. As Mrs. Robinson notes:

It was then that the pig attacked me. I got to my feet but the beast pushed me into a hedge and was trying to bite my legs. It got hold of my coat in its mouth. I had very little strength to fight it off because I was weak from the fall. It was terrifying. Ive never been attacked by anything before, let alone a pig. I didn't know how I was going to get out of the situation.

The pig was eventually chased off by Mrs. Robinson's daughter and a person walking their dog. Mrs. Robinson suffered fractured ribs, a concussion, and substantial bruising.

Interestingly, the pigs are there to eat the acorns in the New Forest that would otherwise poison the local ponies. This "pannage season" lasts for sixty days. Apparently there are about 200 pigs in the forest, although local officials have asked for more given this year's huge crop of acorns. An unnamed spokesman for the Verderers--the guardians of the forest--said that attacks by Commoners' pigs, ponies, or cattle were rare but certainly needed to be reported so that the problem animals could be dealt with. Animal behaviorist Dr. Ann McBride from Southhampton University noted that "Pigs can kill. They are very strong and have large teeth that can seriously hurt someone."

As another aside, the New Forest was created in 1079 by Willliam the Conqueror as a hunting area for deer. It is used by locals (the "Commoners") to pasture ponies, cattle, pigs and donkeys. The right to allow pigs out in the forest is known as the "right of mast" and apparently is not available to all Commoners, although I have no idea who has that right and how they obtained it. According to a BBC article about the New Forest, where I found today's image, certain pregnant pigs, known as "privileged sows" always have the right to be out in the forest. I guess I need to figure more of this out...


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