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Delaware developing a pot-bellied pig problem from unwanted pets

Nov. 21 (UPI) — The Delaware Department of Agriculture is warning residents of an increase in feral pot-bellied pigs in the state as a result of pet owners setting the animals loose in the wild.
Stacey Hofmann, the department’s chief of community relations, said officials have noticed a sharp increase in the number of pot-bellied pigs roaming loose in the state since 2016, and they believe the cause to be pet owners releasing animals when they reach adulthood.
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“Running at large, these pigs pose a nuisance to landowners, increase the threat of establishing feral pig populations, damage natural resources and risk carrying endemic diseases — such as salmonella or even swine flu — that can spread to both people and animals,” Hofmann told the Delaware News Journal.
State veterinarian Karen Lopez said officials are forced to euthanize many of the feral pigs.
“As they get older they’re not as attractive to adopters,” she told NPR affiliate WHYY. “And they may have already developed behavior problems. So the rescues don’t want to take these animals. But they’re not food animals, so livestock auctions won’t take them either.”
Hofmann said the pigs are often sold to unknowing consumers as “teacup” pigs and the buyers then end up surprised when the pigs grow to be up to 200 pounds and can be “hard to handle and difficult to contain.”
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The Department of Agriculture is now urging all pig owners to spay and neuter their pets to prevent wild populations from expanding. They are also urging owners who find their pot-bellied pigs difficult to care for to call 302-698-4561 for guidance instead of setting the pigs loose.

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