A woman was attacked and killed last week in the Houston suburb of Anahuac by what investigators believe were multiple wild hogs, Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne said at a press conference on Monday.
Christine Rollins, 59, was walking around 6 a.m. from her car to a home where she worked as a caretaker for an elderly couple. When she didn’t arrive at her usual time, the homeowner came out and found her dead body lying between the car and the house.
“Unbelievably tragic. This is a very rare incident, just what little research we have found less than six of these have been reported in the nation,” Hawthorne said. “In my 35 years, I will tell you it’s one of the worst things I’ve ever seen.”
Hog attacks are extremely rare. A 2013 study found only about 100 attacks in the United States between 1825 and 2012, four of which were fatal. Of those four, three involved hogs wounded by hunters.
Still, the scene and the nature of Rollins’ wounds indicated a hog attack, and Jefferson County Medical Examiner Dr. Selly Rivers determined the cause of death to be “exsanguination due to feral hog assault.”
“There is no question in the medical examiner’s mind that this was feral hogs that caused her death,” Hawthorne told reporters.
Not all of the neighborhood residents agree. One of the reporters at the news conference spoke with one man who was “convinced” that Collins had been killed by a pack of dogs that had been known to attack humans and animals. He also pointed out, according to the reporter, that hogs tend to eat the animals they attack.
Hawthorne reiterated that the nature of the scene strongly suggested a feral hog attack.
“He didn’t see the crime scene that I did. If he saw the crime scene, he might think differently,” he said.
The incident occurred on a property comprised of 10-12 acres of fields and woods. Hawthorne said the hogs had “taken over” some of that land and roamed mainly at night.
“Feral hogs are a problem across the state of Texas and definitely a problem in this country,” he said.
Texas Parks and Wildlife estimates that over 1.5 million feral hogs roam throughout much of Texas. They’re distributed mainly in whitetail deer range, with higher concentrations in East, South, and Central portions of the state.
They are a non-game species in Texas, which means they can be killed by any means or method at any time of year.
Hunters should be cautious when in close proximity because, while generally not aggressive, they “will lunge at you and attack you” if they perceive a threat, according to Texas Tech professor John J. McGlone.
The 2013 study found that most feral hog attacks are perpetrated by a single male pig and appear to be unprovoked. Most victims are injured in the legs and feet, and fatalities are caused by blood loss.
McGlone told the New York Times that the pigs may have felt threatened by Rollins’ car if they had been lying near the house when she arrived.
Hawthorne added that Rollins appears to have been attacked by multiple hogs given the varying sizes of bite marks.