Right to Farm Committee brokers deal on wild pigs

Marston man to fix fence

neighbors won't fire guns

April 20, 2005|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

After nearly eight hours of often contentious testimony - replete with photographs of a marauding menagerie of livestock, diaries dating pig and goat sightings and advice for building escape-proof fences - a Carroll County farmer and his neighbors reached agreement last night on animal control.

In a deal brokered by the county Right to Farm Committee, the Schisler family must repair 300 yards of fencing that separates their Marston farm from the property of neighbors who have complained of wandering herds.

The neighbors, in turn, will refrain from shooting at errant animals. County staff will help develop a plan to eradicate any loose pigs found in the western Carroll village.

"This board does not condone citizens destroying animals unless they are in imminent danger," said committee member Barry Marsh. "We are not encouraging anyone to take matters into their own hands."

The five-member committee required all fencing repairs to be completed within 60 days.

"I have already repaired most of it so that nothing that I got can get through it," said Carroll Schisler Sr., who keeps sheep, goats, cattle and horses in his pastures.

Through two evenings of hearings before the reconciliation panel, Schisler and his son, Carroll Jr., have contended that the pigs in question were wild.

The committee unanimously agreed that the animals are feral.

"I saw what the wild pigs did to Mr. Schisler's meadow," said committee member Michael Harrison, a Woodbine beef farmer. "I would not let my own pigs do that. These pigs are feral, and they come on to the Schisler property for feed and companionship."

The elder Schisler complained to the county commissioners last month that county animal-control officers have harassed him and fined him for the animals running around in the otherwise quiet neighborhood.

Neighbors, including Agnes Lerp, have also complained to the commissioners, Humane Society and Sheriff's Department about pigs that wiggle through fencing and cause extensive damage to lawns, landscaping, house siding and cars.

"Everybody has known about these wild pigs for years," Schisler said. "This has all been a waste of my time and everyone else's."

Robert Cover, a neighboring farmer, offered his support to the Schislers.

"People come out here and want white picket fences to surround the farms like in Dallas," Cover said, referring to the old television show. "Then, they complain about the smell of manure."

Several neighbors have awakened to pigs and goats on their decks and many reported being chased by pigs as hefty as 300 pounds. Deep ruts and hoof prints have replaced lush grass, and much of the local landscaping has become a staple of the porcine diet.

Pigs easily wiggled through gaps in the fencing or used their snouts to dig their way to adjoining back yards.

The county Humane Society has collected more than a dozen pigs as well as several goats, llamas and emus, from properties surrounding the Schisler farm. The elder Schisler told the committee that "just to be neighborly," he, too, has tried to capture the pigs from neighboring homes and has rounded up about 35 hogs.

"There is no way to get all these pigs," he said. "All you need is one sow and one boar and you are right back to where you started."

The committee had met only once before in its nearly 10-year history - the last time years ago because of a noisy bevy of peacocks. In other disputes, neighbors and farmers have managed to resolve issues without arbitration.

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