Boar hits Prius on interstate
Becky Field of New London, a retired wildlife biologist, has traveled Interstate 89 enough to know that the risk of hitting animals on the road is high, especially during fall months when they are on the move.
She was mindful of the possibility of hitting a deer or a moose as she drove southbound from Lebanon about 6:30 Sunday night, flicking her high beams on when there were no approaching cars and scanning the shoulder.
What she wasn't expecting was to hit a wild boar on the state highway - or, rather, for the boar to hit her.
Field was just north of Exit 11 when something slammed into her driver's side door, pushing her into the breakdown lane, she said. Her car was damaged but still moving, so she pulled off the exit and called 911.
When a trooper later told Field she had collided with a boar, Field was shocked.
"This was the last animal I would have expected hitting in New Hampshire," she said in an interview yesterday.
Wild boar are not native to the state. But they are stocked at the 24,000-acre Blue Mountain Forest and Game Preserve, also known as Corbin Park. The private hunting park, founded in 1890, is based just two towns over from New London, in Croydon, and stretches into four surrounding towns.
The state ties most sightings of boar in the wild to animals that have escaped the park's fences when a tree downs a section or a flood washes away enough ground for the animals to root their way out. Sightings are reported only occasionally, said Steve Weber, Fish and Game's wildlife chief.
Weber said a boar population hasn't really taken root outside the fence, which is a relief. The animals are aggressive foragers, feeding on acorns, corn, beech nuts and other native vegetation. They would be a nuisance to farmers and native animal populations, he said. Weber's department does not monitor the boar population.
"We have no reason to believe that a substantial wild population has developed," he said. "It has not been a significant issue of concern."
Weber said he hadn't heard of any car accidents involving boar in New Hampshire. One, also thought to be an escapee from a game park, was hit in Massachusetts last year.
After Field called the police Sunday, Trooper Danielle Cole responded. Soon after, Cole heard from another trooper that a second car had hit the animal and that it was in fact a boar, now dead in the roadway.
"Typically we get moose, bear, deer, porcupines and stuff like that," Cole said yesterday. "It's not your typical animal in New Hampshire."
But, she said, she wasn't completely surprised. She knew about Corbin Park and that the animals escape from time to time. Gerald Merrill, manager of the park, declined to comment on the park's boar population yesterday.
Field, who was a biologist with the Fish and Wildlife Service in Massachusetts and now works for the American Red Cross, said the police told her the animal looked to be about 200 pounds. Afterward she asked if she could get a picture of the animal, but it had been disposed of.
"I was afraid nobody was going to believe me, but the state trooper did assure me that they had a very positive ID on it," she said.
She said her insurance company has determined that the damage to her Toyota Prius - including a dented front door and damaged bumper - was due to an unavoidable accident.
Wild boar can be dark in color and squat and fat like their pig relatives. She said she never saw the boar coming because, unlike the deer or moose she was expecting, "there were no legs."
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