The Department of Natural Resources claimed two feral pigs were shot and killed near Middlebury Friday when a woman found the pigs in her back yard. Turns out, the pigs weren't feral at all, they were family pets: potbellied pigs.
Feral pigs can be dangerous and can also do a lot of damage to farmland. But the DNR has never received a report of a feral pig in the area before. Still, the Department of Natural Resources gave permission over the phone for the pigs to be shot.
Standing inside the barn where the two pigs would sleep, their owner Chad Troyer talked about his two family pets.
"Oscar was my wedding gift to my wife nine years ago, Arnold was a pig that we rescued," Troyer said. "Nice animals, my 4-year-old granddaughter could walk up and pet them if she wanted to."
On Monday, Chad read a story about two wild hogs being shot to death near his home. Attached were pictures, not of wild animals, but of his dead pets.
"As soon as I saw the photo, I knew that was Arnold, the white one. And Oscar, the one you could see in the background, was the black one." Troyer said.
The pigs have an acre and a half of fenced in area to roam. Troyer believes they managed to get out through a gap sometime on Friday. He says they had escaped a couple of times before, but always came back, so he put some food out and was waiting for them to return.
But how were two potbellied pigs confused as wild hogs? According to the DNR, officers received a call about the pigs on Friday. They were described as shaggy, aggressive and having three-inch-tusks. The DNR gave permission for the pigs to be killed over the phone. That's a decision Troyer doesn't agree with.
"It's not automatically a feral pig, it's just like calling a poodle a wolf, or a coyote." Troyer said.
But according to Indiana code, nearly any pig that's not confined can be considered feral. And the only action someone can take when dealing with a feral pig is killing it.
Troyer says the pigs were not wearing collars or tags. He says it's impossible to put a collar on a potbellied pig because of their body types, collars would just slide off. He had considered putting on ear tags, but he didn't want them to be ripped out while the pigs were playing.
Troyer says all he wants right now is to get his pigs' bodies back so he can bury them at home.
The DNR says they believe the appropriate action was taken and they wouldn't change how the situation was handled.