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Wild hogs pose dangers to motorists
Driving his squad car on U.S. 17 near New Hope Plantation, Senior Georgia State Trooper Andy Sinquefield was faced with a decision many drivers are forced to make: swerve to miss an animal in the road or hit it.

Sinquefield, a safety education coordinator with the state patrol, made what he said is almost always the right decision.

"Most of the time, if your traveling at a decent speed, it is best to hit it," Sinquefield said.

On that day 10 years ago, to the detriment of his squad car, Sinquefield hit a feral hog.

"Hitting a hog is like hitting a brick wall," he said.

Wild hogs can grow to weigh as much as 500 pounds in some cases. But hitting a hog, or any other animal taking a driver by surprise, is better than swerving and causing an accident, he said.

"It is our natural reaction to try and miss it, but we should be out to protect ourselves and others instead," Sinquefield said.

Trying to miss an animal can easily make a person drive off the road, hit another car in traffic or even flip over, he said.

"Fixing a car is usually easier than fixing yourself," Sinquefield said.

A few people in Glynn County figured that out this week when police responded to at least two calls of cars colliding with hogs on the roads, something that happens periodically, Sinquefield said.

Hog collisions are bound to happen when there is a large population like the one in the Altamaha River Basin, according to David Mixon, regional supervisor for game management for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

"If you look at hogs from an environmental standpoint, having just one is too many," Mixon said.

Feral hogs cause serious damage to crops, endangered plants and even sea turtle nests, Mixon said.

"On the islands, if they figure out a turtle nest has food, they will focus on them," Mixon said. "Hogs will eat pretty much anything they can get their mouths on."

If food or water become scarce, they will move to find another source, Mixon said.

While on the move, hogs sometimes find their way to a populated area and come into contact with humans.

Mixon has not seen any evidence of a rise in hog population and said the recent roadway collisions were likely instances of hogs moving from one area to another.

Females can have up to three litters a year with as many as 13 in a litter, Mixon said .

He said private landowners are allowed to kill hogs on their property year-round.

The season for hunting hogs in wildlife management areas opens Aug. 15.

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