Feds step in to help round up remaining loose pigs

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It’s been nearly a month since 250 pigs escaped from Sugar Mountain Farm in Orange, Vt. Now, federal and state authorities have stepped in to help round up any remaining swine.

Walter Jeffries at Sugar Mountain Farm claimed last month that a former employee sabotaged the fencing on his property, causing his sow and piglets to run rampant. Jeffries was given a month to fix the fencing and contain the pigs.

before the state’s veterinarian, game wardens, and even the United States Department of Agriculture showed up at his door.        

“We wanted to visit the farm in person and have a conversation with Mr. Jeffries,” said Dr. Kristen Haas, State Veterinarian with the Dept. of Agriculture.

“Trying to figure something that’ll work for both parties and I think we’ve come up with an agreement on that,” said David Allaben, state director for USDA Wildlife Services.

The USDA says within the next week, they’ll actually be installing surveillance cameras around the area to see if they can spot any pigs that may still be roaming.

Jeffries declined to talk on camera Wednesday, but said he’s been working around the clock to bring his parcel of pigs home. He also sent the following statement:

“As of 9/11 I believe that 100% of the pigs are back in because for the past three days I’ve been putting the same several sows in each morning. They find holes in the fences, go out and come back in. I patch those holes and they look for another. Electric fencing solves that and that is what I’m working on now.”

Jeffries said bread trails, working dogs, and one way gates helped contain the mass. Officials say the loose swine not only pose a public health concern, but likely won’t survive the winter on their own.

According the the USDA, if the pigs become feral, the state could have bigger problems.

“They’re so damaging to everything,” Allaben said. “To the environment, to crops, human health and safety, they carry a whole lot of parasites and disease.”

If you spot any loose pigs, authorities urge you to report the sightings, but refrain from trying to capture the pig yourself.

“It’s very difficult for people the pigs are not familiar with and vice versa,” Dr. Haas said. “So we would not recommend any efforts along those lines.”

It could take about a month before there’s an update; officials say it will take time to install the cameras, review the pictures, and take action if there are loose pigs remaining.

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