Posted: Jun 30, 2011 2:20 PM
A Florida man pleaded guilty last week to three counts of illegally importing and possessing wild pigs in Kentucky. State law prohibits persons from possessing and importing wild pigs, or releasing them to run free.
Teddy Wilburn King, 55, of Old Town, Florida, paid $300 in fines plus court costs for bringing wild pigs into Kentucky from Florida. King, who was originally charged on June 16, made his plea a week later in McCreary County District Court.
Conservation Officer Travis Neal initiated the case after a McCreary County resident killed an escaped pig and alerted Neal to the presence of the animals.
King's conviction followed a similar conviction last April. In that case, Bryan Currey, 46, of Elkton, Kentucky, was convicted of bringing about a dozen wild pigs into the state from Tennessee. Currey, who was charged on January 7, intended to sell the wild pigs to hunters. He pleaded guilty in Marshall County District Court to one count of illegal importation of wild pigs. He received a $300 fine and was ordered to pay court costs plus $250 in restitution to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.
Wild pigs have been established in relatively low numbers in a handful of Kentucky counties for almost a decade. The numbers have escalated in recent years - department officials have documented the presence of wild pigs in 44 counties, including central Kentucky.
"In 2009, we had confirmed wild pigs in 23 Kentucky counties, so their expansion has been dramatic," said Wildlife Division Program coordinator Steven Dobey. "Unfortunately, our research has revealed that this rapid expansion is often the result of illegal releases by people hoping to manufacture hunting opportunities."
While the opportunity to hunt wild pigs is often glamorized by the media, the negative consequences associated with these non-native animals far outweigh any benefits. Wild pigs are an incredibly destructive species, both for wildlife and farmers.
"Their presence is particularly disturbing because wild pigs carry a host of diseases that can infect livestock, pets and even people," said Dobey. "They have incredible reproductive rates. They destroy habits. They simply out-compete native wildlife - especially deer and turkey - for food."
The department is committed to preventing wild pigs from becoming further established and severely altering the landscape for the state's native wildlife. The public is urged to contact Kentucky Fish and Wildlife at 1-800-858-1549 during weekday working hours to report any sightings, hunter kills, or releases of wild pigs.