Here’s a true story about a silly meme about a serious problem, or, how three women beat a herd of feral hogs—without a rapid-fire assault rifle.
I grew up in Brazil, and used to spend a great number of school breaks and vacations at my grandmother’s farm, about 40 minutes outside of Anápolis, Goiás. Growing up we knew to steer clear of feral animals, and to avoid the bamboo thickets because there were snakes in there. We had never even considered needing anything more for protection, day-to-day.
One afternoon, when I was about six and my cousin 12, we went swimming in the creek, about 15 minutes walk from the farmhouse. Suddenly, we heard the telltale stampeding and snorting of feral hogs. Ack! We started running uphill toward the house as fast as we’d ever run, but they were going to overtake us so we scrambled up the nearest tree.
Looking down, we noticed that it was a mother feral hog that had recently given birth to baby hogs. She must have had eight to 10 total in her herd. Which is terrific, except it made them protective and possibly hostile to us. We called out for help, but were out of earshot. In 1988 I don’t think we had a landline at the farm, much less cell phones. So we sat up there for while and ate guavas from the guava tree, drip drying, flicking off ants and waiting for the hogs to leave. They were probably waiting for us to try and leave. A hog herd stand-off.
Finally, we spotted my grandmother and the trusty farm dog plodding down the hill. The horseless cavalry came to find us because we were taking too long to get back. I don’t think I ever spoke to my grandmother once about politics, nor she to me, but she literally walked softly and carried a big stick. She used that stick to shoo the hogs away (some loosely aimed rocks may also have been involved.) They scattered past the cornfields and into the bush. We re-banded, triumphant, and headed home. All of us—girls, grandma and hogs—escaped unscathed.
I’ve never been threatened with 30 to 50 hogs, which does sound like a very large herd. I had no idea US farmers had similar problems to Brazilian farmers. They’re considered an invasive species most everywhere, it seems, threatening crops and occasionally life and limb. In Brazil, it is legal to cull them, but in our farm we never have.
Brazil has had interesting gun legislation travails. There is no constitutional right to bear arms, but gun ownership used to be widely available. Then there was a big disarmament campaign that included buy-backs, psycho-techincal testing, and written justification which makes it difficult to maintain guns legally. Bolsonaro, the newly elected president, won partially with the help of the beef, Bible and bullet lobby, promising to bring guns back.
All I can say is that my family never needed automatic weapons and never missed them—certainly not for feral hogs. If your goal is to get them away from crops and people, you don’t need a sledgehammer to tap in a finishing nail… but different strokes for different folks, I guess.
~Carol Freire Robinson is a mother, an emergency medicine physician, and a survivor of the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting. As a doctor, she feels escaping death, preventing injury and contributing to public safety is very much in her lane.