Oakland authorities have closed a walking trail after the runaway pig that frightened a high school student last week scared another victim on Monday morning.
The woman Monday was worried that the 80-pound black-and-white pig might attack her and took refuge on the side rail of a wooden bridge on the forested walking trail between Messalonskee Middle School and Messalonskee High School.
“She was not attacked but was very frightened and came to the station to report it,” Capt. Rick Stubbert, of the Oakland Police Department, said shortly after closing the trail Monday afternoon.
Police searched the trail for the pig but once again found only tracks.
“The pig is out there,” he said.
Wednesday, a high school student flagged down police and reported that the pig had given chase, screaming and behaving aggressively.
Last week’s report sparked searches of the trail, first by a policeman on a bicycle and then by the town’s animal control officer, but they turned up nothing but hoofprints.
After first being reported by the Morning Sentinel, the pig’s tale was picked up by other news outlets. At the time, Stubbert said the animal was unlikely to be a top priority for police, but now the repeat offense has turned it into an issue of concern for both the department and Regional School Unit 18.
“It’s a public safety thing,” he said. “We’re just trying to maintain the trails as a safe place for people to walk.”
With the trail closed, police are working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the school district and the animal control officer to capture the pig, using bait to lure it into a live trap.
Closing the trail will keep the animal from being spooked and will also prevent encounters between the pig and the public.
The town and the USDA recently came under fire from members of the public who were upset after a joint effort to relocate nuisance geese at the town beach ended with the euthanization of the birds.
Stubbert said that the goal is to reunite the wayward pig with its owner, who police have identified, but whose name they won’t release.
“We will safely catch the pig and safely return it to its owner,” he said.
The owner will not be charged with any crime, as he did not intend for the pig to escape, Stubbert said.
He said the pig has remained at large for about a month and has shown the ability to thrive in the wild.
“According to the USDA, they do very well in the woods eating nuts and things, as long as they have a water source,” he said. He said pigs typically establish a range of between six and eight miles.
Matt Hongoltz-Hetling — 861-9287