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Local biologist pens novel on yearlong feral pig hunt

Mark Hainds, a biologist by trade, has made his living studying and documenting nature. Now, he’s taken his profession one step further and penned a novel outlining his hunt for one of the U.S.’s most destructive animals – the feral pig.

Feral hogs have been a topic of discussion over the past few years, as they have wrecked havoc on the state’s ecosystem, he said.

Hainds, a local research coordinator for the Longleaf Alliance, has titled the book “Year of the Pig,” aptly named after the Chinese zodiac.

Hainds said he spent a whole year hunting feral hogs in 11 U.S. states, which he outlines in his book.

Hainds said he works with the Longleaf Alliance in restoring the long leaf pine ecosystem, but said he has watched as the animal has invaded and harmed the forest.

“We work all over the southeast from Virginia to Texas,” he said. “The pigs were undoing what we were doing. They are tearing up the native forest. I’m a lifelong hunter. I was almost ordained to become a pig hunter as part of my professional responsibility.”

Hainds said at the peak of the feral hog problem, they were killing 100 hogs annually on 5,300 acres.

“We’ve pretty well wiped them out,” he said.

“I found (feral hogs) in FLAT CAT HOG,” he said of his acronym for Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Texas, California, Arkansas, Tennessee, Hawaii, Oklahoma and Georgia.

“The only state I visited that I didn’t kill a feral hog was in Missouri,” he said.

Hainds said he used a range of weapons – black-power rifle, bow and arrow, knife and how-powered rifle – and various methods to stalk his quarry through titi, saw palmetto, privet hedge and blue palms.

Hainds said that pig populations have wreaked havoc on ecosystems the world over, as they are non-native to the Western Hemisphere and came over with Hernando De Soto.

Hainds said he worked on the novel during his quest and received advanced copies some two months ago.

Hainds said the book is available in town at Walker Business and Sugar Rush and every major bookstore.

He will hold his first book signing on Sept.1 at the Solon Dixon Forestry Center from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. Those interested in attending are asked to RSVP at 222-7779.