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A Russian Wild Boar

A small news item caught my eye the other day.

A retired New Hampshire Fish and Wildlife officer was traveling along Interstate 89 one night when something big rammed into her car hard enough to push it into the breakdown lane. Luckily she wasn’t hurt, but her car was pretty badly banged up.

The officers responding to the call told her it was probably a Russian wild boar.

Back in 2008, a Russian wild boar was struck and killed along Rte. 2 in Lancaster, Mass., and the year before, another one was hit along Rte. 2 in Royalston.

A little out of their territory, wouldn’t you think?

But no. Wildlife officials say Texas and New Hampshire have the largest populations of wild boars in the country. They’re also reasonably common in other southeastern states.

I don’t know much about the other populations, but the New Hampshire boars can be traced to a single source – a private hunting club that owns a 20,000-acre game preserve in central New Hampshire. It was formed in the 1890s and its membership is made up of a handful of the superwealthy. Years ago, they imported several of the boars for the fun of it, and of course, some escaped.

Coming from Eurasia, the boars do quite well in our New England region, and they are prolific breeders. Exact numbers aren’t available, but estimates are they number in the hundreds in New Hampshire. The central Mass.-NH border is a well-traveled wildlife highway, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that boars would find their way along it, too.

They can cause quite a bit of property damage – rooting around they can turn a nice patch of land into a deep mudhole in a few hours.

As for human – boar contact, so far they seem to involve automobiles. From the looks of them, I don’t know how I’d feel coming across one on the trail.


Willard Brook in Townsend

This afternoon I took a short walk along a nice local trail. It starts just below Damon Pond at the Willard Brook State Forest in Townsend, Mass., and follows the brook downstream for about a mile. Several short spur trails connect to other trails that run along the ridge above the brook, making for a nice loop back to the parking area.

At this time of year the brook has usually dried up to a trickle, but with all the rain we’ve had the brook is swollen and fast-moving. The woods are littered with fallen trees and branches from the storm two weeks ago, but nothing was blocking the trails I was on.

Looking around, there were the marks of many other similar events, including a big old, moss-covered hickory log that probably fell twenty or more years ago, and was still intact.

Down by the brook, the air is cool, and eastern hemlocks are the predominant tree. When I climbed up the ridge a short way, I noticed something curious. The air was noticeably warmer, and the predominant tree on one side of the trail was white pine, while on the other it was mostly black oak, with relatively few hemlocks.

It was a good example of how just a few degrees difference over a relatively short distance can change the whole mix of vegetation.

The white pine were all about the same age, and there were almost no other types of trees, which would indicate that area was a clearing 40-50 years ago, maybe the result of logging or a forest fire.

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