OAKLAND — This little piggy went straight to the pen.
The black and white swine that escaped eight weeks ago from a farm on Oak Street and then terrorized children and adults on area nature trails was captured Tuesday, about a mile, as the crow flies, from the farm.
The town’s animal control officer, Pat Faucher, and Ross Gatcomb, a wildlife specialist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services, used stinky food to lure the four-month-old 60-pound pig into a corral they constructed with stakes and goat panels, complete with a trigger — or a rope on a stick — and guillotine-style door that slammed down behind the animal once it entered the corral.
Farmer Jeff Taylor said he bought the pig and its sister, Miss Piggy, from a farm in North Anson in late May or early June. The pigs had been at the farm only about 10 minutes before the male touched an electric fence and bolted.
Taylor and his family chased the pig, but weren’t able to capture it.
“He bolted right straight for the woods,” he said. “He never turned around.”
Faucher and Gatcomb had been tracking and baiting the pig for about two weeks and captured it at 12:15 p.m. Tuesday about 75 yards off Messalonskee Eagle Trail, near Messalonskee High School.
“We used really smelly stuff — sour mash corn, old rotten food — and yeast, so it was fermenting,” Faucher said moments after the capture.
They placed the food both inside and outside the corral around 4:30 p.m. Monday and Faucher held out a bucket of grain to entice the pig into the corral, but the pig backed out and took off, Faucher said.
“Ross re-baited this morning around 7 a.m. and I went down at noontime and showed him the bucket of grain again. I looked and I saw him coming toward me on the other side of the brook. We knew he was hungry so I just went in the corral and made a feed trail and he came in and as he put his head in the bucket, I hit the trip switch, the door came down and we was in.
“He was a little freaked out when the door came down.”
The men then put a wood cage they built up to the corral door and opened it, and the pig went inside the cage.
Police, who had previously tried to capture the pig, arrived and helped load it onto a fire department all-terrain vehicle and it was driven back to the farm, much to the delight of Taylor, the pig’s owner, Taylor.
‘HIS FEELINGS MIGHT BE HURT’
Just before leaving the farm Tuesday afternoon, police Chief Michael Tracy, Capt. Rick Stubbert, Sgt. Jerry Haynes and Officer Todd Burbank chatted with Faucher, Gatcomb, Taylor and Taylor’s son, Nathan, an Oakland firefighter.
Jeff Taylor’s father, Hardy Taylor, is assistant fire chief and has been a firefighter for the town more than 50 years.
Gatcomb said it was important to capture the animal because once a domestic pig returns to the wild, it will revert to its wild instincts and could be a danger to wildlife, agriculture, livestock and humans, and also could carry diseases that may be transferred to other animals.
Tracy said the nature trail near the high school is heavily used and had to be closed because of the pig sightings there.
“Now, they can reopen it so people can return to their nature walks,” Tracy said.
Faucher said the cooperation of departments in different levels of government made the capture possible.
“It’s not a common occurrence,” he said of escaped pigs.
Meanwhile, the weary pig stood in the mud inside a 10-by-10-foot chain link dog kennel at the farm, looking up at its owners as he flicked flies with his curly tail.
“I’m glad that he’s home and safe,” Jeff Taylor said. “His feelings might be hurt a little bit, but that’s about it.”
Taylor said while the male pig took off immediately, his sister seemed to like her new home.
“She (Miss Piggy) stuck right around. She was fine. She was really docile.”
He said the captured pig was larger than when he saw it last.
“He’s grown a lot. He’s twice as long and tall. He’s done well for himself,” Taylor said as the pig lay down in the mud and exhaled.
“He’s tired — you can tell he’s had an ordeal,” Taylor said. “He’s resting happy now. He’s going to get fed three times a day now. He doesn’t have to forage for his food anymore. I think he’s going to be a happy boy.”
Nearby, 12 laying hens strutted around in a pen. Sophie, a brown horse, and Bella, a black one, munched hay from a round bale feeder. Two little brown goats, Lenny and Squiggy, lay inside the hay, their heads emerging occasionally to nudge the horses.
Taylor, who describes himself as a gentleman farmer, said he and his wife, Linda, 48, and sons, including Eric, 25, love animals. They also have two golden retriever-poodle mixes, Abby and Maggie, and two cats, Ebony and Sassy.
The captured pig will grow to between 200 and 250 pounds by the end of December, when it will be butchered for food, Taylor said.
Amy Calder — 861-9247