Incident in San Francisco (Chapter 5, page 3 of 8)


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Chapter 5

These pigs which roamed the hills of Monterey County were not the small peccaries of the Southwest. These were direct descendants of large Russian wild boar, originally imported by William Randolph Hearst to add to the exotic stock on his sprawling San Simeon ranch to the south. There had been some dilution of the original bloodlines by interbreeding with escaped domestic swine. However, the pig, judged by many to be the most intelligent of non-human mammals, was also the species which most quickly reverted to its original wild form. In only three generations, escaped domestic pigs, those relatively docile Yorkshires and Durocs, bred for centuries to produce smooth cuts of ham, bacon, and chops, were transformed into feral beasts which barely resembled their great-grandparents. Razor-sharp tusks, up to 6 inches long, curled out from the front of the jaw. Shoulders were higher, narrower, and covered under the hide with an armor of gristle, an inch or more thick, which ran from just behind the head to well behind the shoulder. It protected well from the few remaining predators, primarily mountain lions, which might tackle a grown boar. It would also stop a bullet from anything less than a very high-powered rifle.

The more powerful front shoulders tapered back to slimmer hips - these were not the smooth, slab-sided domestics with bulging hams. The whole package was wrapped in exceedingly tough hide, covered coarsely with wiry, curly hair. Baby piglets started life with a rusty brown coat, camouflaged with horizontal stripes. Like the spots on the coats of little fawns, these soon were replaced with the permanent adult color. Some showed their Russian ancestry clearly, colored the gray of Russian Wolfhounds. Others, though, showed the influence of the domestics, and red, black, spotted or belted markings could all be found in the same herd. Fortunately, the stack had not been visited by a herd, or the damage would have been much greater - and much more difficult for Monty to remedy.

As he swung Buck around to head back down the slope Monty remembered noticing exceptionally bright moonlight last night when he had gone to bed, which would help solve his problem. Wild pigs were mainly nocturnal creatures, but the law did not allow hunting at night. Like most ranchers out in the country, Monty had a deep respect for law and order, but it was tempered with the belief that some laws were made in Sacramento or Washington which did not apply to every case everywhere in the state or the country. The proper procedure was to apply to Fish and Game for a depredation permit. This specified how many pigs were to be killed, and that the carcasses would be field-dressed and given to the Department. The permits took more than a few days to obtain, and expired a couple of weeks later.

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