Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Cops give answers on Sir Bacon, the wandering pig shot to death Monday

A pig — perhaps Sir Bacon of Burg —rummages through leaves in a James City County yard around Christmas time. (WYDaily/Courtesy Tracy Deibler Tingen)
A pig — perhaps Sir Bacon of Burg —rummages through leaves in a James City County yard around Christmas time. (WYDaily/Courtesy Tracy Deibler Tingen)

It’s been two days since Sir Bacon of Burg, the elusive Williamsburg pig, was shot and killed by police on Route 199 in James City County.

Since then, questions have surfaced in the community. Sir Bacon’s death has left some residents wondering whether there was an alternative to shooting the pig, and what happens next.

WYDaily obtained a copy of an email James City County Police sent in response to a list of questions submitted by a concerned resident, the administrator of the Sir Bacon of Burg Facebook group, Kelsey Helmick.

The list details the police department’s reasons for killing the pig, animal control’s efforts to catch it, and what happened to the carcass.

As you know, this has been a difficult time for everyone,” police spokeswoman Stephanie Williams said in an email sent to both WYDaily and Helmick. “This is certainly not the outcome we had hoped for.”

Williams said police do not have a standard procedure for dealing with situations like Sir Bacon’s because “this was not a typical situation.”

Instead, police and animal control consulted with other agencies including a local veterinarian, the Virginia State Veterinarian’s Office and the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries before agreeing to shoot the pig.

Williams said animal control officers in the county are not equipped with animal tranquilizer guns, but even if they were able to successfully deploy a tranquilizer, consultants told police it could take 15 to 25 minutes to take effect.

During that time, the pig could run off, or run into traffic.

“Ultimately, we were erring on the side of public safety,” Williams said.

After being shot, the pig’s carcass was “disposed of in accordance with state regulations,” Williams said, because there are risks associated with eating feral, non-native game species.

Some livestock animal disposal options in Virginia include burial or composting. With roadkill, the Virginia Department of Transportation will either deliver the carcass to a landfill or bury them on the side of the road.

Over several months, animal control has been working to capture four pigs, including the most recent, Sir Bacon. Three were captured. Of those, one was humanely euthanized, Sir Bacon was shot and two others were adopted.

Animal control set several traps in different locations throughout the areas where the pigs were spotted, but Williams said the traps were ineffective.

Williams said police have been unable to prove Sir Bacon was related to three other pigs on the loose, one of which was owned by, and later seized from, a woman living on News Road.

To answer a question about shooting other roadside wildlife, such as deer, Williams said the pigs specifically were considered feral after being left to roam. Feral pigs are considered a destructive and invasive species, she said.

“This pig had become complacent with heavily traveled, high speed limit roadways, and had caused much property damage to homeowners in the county,” Williams said.

Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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