Hogs to blame for rash of horse attacks in the Upstate, SLED officials say


POLK CO., N.C. (WSPA) – After learning wild boars are responsible for the recent series of horse attacks in our area, 7 News spoke with a horse owner and a wildlife expert about the news.

Vonda Bellew has been raising horses and cattle in Polk County for decades.

When she heard about the recent rash of horse attacks–not far from her own farm–she never thought a person was responsible.

“No horse is going to stand for anybody–even its owner–and let itself be cut or stabbed multiple times,” Bellew said.

That’s because, Bellew said, one of her horses, “Comanche,” was attacked by a boar just a couple of years ago.

“I found bite marks on him. I found slobber, cuts. Then, I turned around and there, beside the tree, was a potbelly boar. He was in rut,” she said. “As soon as I got my gelding up, he attacked him again and took him down. This was an 800-pound gelding and this was a 100-pound pig. So, do I think a 300-pound hog could take down a horse? Yes, I do.”

SLED officials investigated the recent attacks and said animal tracks consistent with hogs, as well as video evidence and sightings of boars, led them to believe the attacks were indeed done by hogs.

But one wildlife expert was not completely convinced, saying DNA evidence should’ve been collected.

“Hogs don’t just attack animals for the sake of attacking animals. That’s not how it works,” Wildlife Specialist Cory Heaton said. “I hate to say this, but if they haven’t done any DNA work on those wounds, then they haven’t started an investigation.”

Heaton told 7 News the only way it could’ve been a hog was if the incidents happened in a very confined space–possibly during a feeding time.

“If it is a hog, it’s awful strange they are occurring in a very small geographical area, and not in the geographical area with the highest density of feral hogs,” Heaton said. “Unfortunately, it sounds more like a person to me. If this is a person, these are clinical signs of psychopathy; and God only knows that this is the starting point to what comes next.”

But Bellew told 7 News she agrees with SLED’s findings and now has some advice for other horse owners.

“Let people hog hunt on your property,” she said. “If you’re worried about your horses, put them up at night. Don’t leave any feed laying on the ground. Don’t leave anything that’s going to lure these wild hogs in.”

There was a report of a horse shot in Greenville County last month, but SLED told 7 News that is a completely separate case and is still actively being investigated.

SLED said the wild boar population has increased in the last several years, and DNR has authorized hunting during the day and night of the animals with a special permit.

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