The good news: The pig that was roaming the woods near Detroit Lakes wasn't a wild boar, as officials feared.
The bad news (for the pig): A landowner shot and killed it Tuesday, allowing wildlife officials to identify it Wednesday as pot-bellied pig - a southeast Asian species that has been imported to the United States, often as pets.
"We figure it was someone's pot-bellied pig that had gotten away,'' said Tom Kucera, Department of Natural Resources assistant area wildlife manager in Detroit Lakes. Officials haven't received any reports of a missing pig, he said, so they don't know where it came from.
The porker weighed about 80 pounds and had long hair and tusks. It was killed by a woman who said the pig was harassing her horses. A neighbor field-dressed and butchered the pig, and plans to eat it, Kucera said.
The head and body organs might be tested for disease, he said.
DNR officials started getting calls about a pig near Detroit Lakes last week, and, based on the descriptions, they believed it was a European boar or feral pig. They were greatly concerned because boars and feral pigs can multiply rapidly, spread diseases to wild and domestic animals and are destructive to the landscape.
They are problems in many states, including neighboring Wisconsin, Iowa and North Dakota. It's illegal to import them into Minnesota, and so far, they have not shown up here.
Discovering that the loose pig near Detroit Lakes wasn't a wild boar was a relief to wildlife officials. "Absolutely,'' said Kucera.
Still, having exotic animals running wild in the state is a concern. The critter did root up some gardens in the area, and they are capable of interbreeding with domestic pigs. But it turns out this one couldn't, Kucera said: "It had been castrated.''
Doug Smith • 612-673-7667