I’m so proud

our own hogzilla

Hogzilla, as it turns out, isn’t the only giant feral pig in town. (Well, country.)

(Lancaster New Era: “Our very own Hogzilla,” by Ad Crable [August 11, 2004])

Our very own Hogzilla
Skeptical about that porker in Georgia? Take a look at this.

LANCASTER COUNTY, PA – You may recall the story and picture of the 12-foot, half-ton feral hog reportedly killed on a Georgia plantation a couple weeks back.

The story has touched off debate around the globe about its authenticity. Many, doubting a hog can grow to such gargantuan proportions, have dismissed it as a computer-enhanced image.

Hogzilla or Hoaxzilla?

Can a pig pork up to the size of a Volkswagen Bug?

Sure it can. There’s one on a farm in Conoy Township near Bainbridge right now.

It’s dead, shot in Stephen Mohr’s cornfield on Nov. 24, 2001, after it escaped its pen. Until that day, it had had an easy time of it, breeding and dining on entire watermelons and occasional chickens that would perch on the hog’s back.

Before the pig was mounted for display in the Bainbridge Inn, Mohr took the pig’s vitals:

  • 10 feet, 6 inches long from snout to rump; 11 feet, 10 inches when hanging from a barn beam after being hoisted there with the aid of a pickup and block and tackle.
  • Well over 1,000 pounds. The hog weighed 1,005 pounds when Mohr bought him six months earlier from a Pennsylvania breeder. He figures the hog gained another 100 pounds or so while he owned him.
  • 35 inches wide across the back.
  • 9 1/2-inch tusks.

And pig’s ears that would have made a dog swoon.

The hog was a cross between a Russian boar and a feral pig. Feral pigs are descendants of domestic pigs brought over from Europe that escaped long ago and live in the wild.

Some 20 states now have substantial feral pig populations, which cause enormous environmental problems as they consume food used by native wildlife and upturn the earth, rooting for food.

Mohr, a longtime Conoy Township supervisor, bought the hog to mate with a wild Russian pig. Grown pigs were then released on an island in the Susquehanna River that Mohr owns as part of his pay-to-hunt Island Exotic Hunts operation.

Over time, the hog became increasingly irritable and belligerent. “He’d pick a gate up with you standing on it and throw you,” recalls Mohr. “You couldn’t trust him. I was afraid he would hurt somebody.”

When the boar escaped one fall day and hung out in cornfields, Mohr knew he wouldn’t be able to recapture him. Howard Smith, a friend and owner of the Bainbridge Inn, thought the hog would be a fine conversation piece for his drinking patrons.

Smith shot the hog with a rifle and hired Mohr’s taxidermist son-in-law, Tony Heisey, to do a full body mount. The head and coarse-hair hide weighed 178 pounds, alone. The folks at the tannery that processed the hide said they had never seen such a large hide and never wanted to again.

Heisey found the largest animal form he could find to spread the hide over. It was a 300-pound wild boar body but was not nearly large enough.

“I would have been better off buying a big hippo and cutting it down,” Heisey laments. He ended up pouring his own liquid foam body and sculpting it to fit.

The taxidermist spent more than 200 hours preparing the lifelike mount. It cost Smith “in the thousands.”

The display is presently on loan to Mohr, who hauls it to sports shows for his booth, where he sells deer lures, calls and hunts.

He sometimes lets kids sit on the hog’s back.

But what about all the ham sandwiches from the hog? Where’s the pork?

The meat of pigs that have lived that long—seven years—and grown that big has a strong taste and odor not to be trifled with, Mohr says.

“The only thing it was good for was hot Italian sausages,” says Mohr, who nevertheless attempted to eat some of the ham.

Asked what it tasted like, Mohr thinks a moment before replying.

“Like it had kerosene injected in it.”