ATLANTA - Police have enlisted the help of a trapper to round up a group of feral hogs scaring residents of a subdivision in suburban Atlanta.
Some parents fear sending their children to a school bus stop in the Lithonia area, where up to four of the hogs are roaming the streets and eating trash in front yards.
Authorities hope the hogs can be trapped in cages by this morning, DeKalb County police spokeswoman Mekka Parish said.
"They're causing quite a stir to say the least," Parish said shortly before noon Tuesday, as she headed out to the neighborhood, about 17 miles east of downtown Atlanta.
The police department's animal control officers were at the scene, but the plan was for a volunteer trapper to actually capture the animals.
"My children are petrified," Taneisha Danner told WSB-TV.
Danner and her family just moved into their home from New Jersey.
"I have little ones that get on the bus at 6:40 in the morning," she added. "So, I'm sorry. I'm not built to fight off wildlife."
The Atlanta station, which reports that one of the hogs is as tall as a man's waist, aired video of the animals hanging around the subdivision.
The hogs can be dangerous if they are cornered, said Charlie Killmaster, a deer and feral hog biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. "If they feel threatened, they can become aggressive, they can bite," he said.
A sow protecting piglets also can be dangerous, much like a bear protecting her cubs, Killmaster said.
Feral hogs live in just about every county in Georgia, and there have been hogs in the general area of the DeKalb County subdivision for quite a few years, Killmaster said.
The animals in Georgia are "a hodge-podge" of domestic pigs that escaped from their pens and hogs that have been living in the wild for years.
In the early 1900s, several animals escaped from their enclosures at a hunting preserve at a mountain known as Hooper Bald in North Carolina, and they mated with feral hogs in the surrounding area. That population then spread into other areas of the Southeast, including Georgia, according to research done by Dr. Jack Mayer of the Savannah River National Laboratory in Aiken, S.C.
In the Piedmont area of Georgia, which includes metro Atlanta, the hogs are often found along rivers and creeks, Killmaster said. Further south, in the Coastal Plain region south of Columbus and Macon, they tend to be more widespread and are not as limited to waterways.