CAMP RED CLOUD -- Wild boars rooting for food on Area I installations in recent weeks pose hazards to people and property, so the Army is taking steps to keep out the four-legged intruders without harming them.
Boars over the past month damaged property at several Area I installations, tearing up grass and burrowing into traditional Korean grave mounds, said officials of the U.S. Army Garrison Red Cloud and Area I. The garrison manages Army installations in the region of Korea north of Seoul.
Soldiers during their morning physical fitness training have spotted boars on several occasions roaming afield on Camp Casey and Camp Hovey, both in Dongducheon.
"What they are doing is they're burrowing, looking for roots and other food," said Dr. Everett Langford, Environmental Division chief with the garrison's Directorate of Public Works. "Basically, they're getting ready for winter and they want to fatten up, so it's more likely you're going to run into them this time of year," he said.
"With the recent urbanization in the area around our camps, what we have found is that there are more and more coming onto our areas," said Langford. "And this year has been largest problem that we have had in at least the six years that I've been here."
The boars pose two main hazards, he said. They could attack Soldiers and others on the installations, though no attacks have been reported thus far. And through their characteristic burrowing they could destroy trees at their roots, damage cables, undermine walls and other structures, and again tear up fields and disturb grave mounds.
A family of boar burrowed into two grave mounds at the California Range on the Story Live Fire Complex in Paju. Boars also burrowed into a grave mound in the Dragon Valley area of Camp Casey. Boars tore up grass and dirt near a building on Camp Hovey.
A boar was spotted roaming in the Hovey Cut area which lies between Camp Casey and Camp Hovey.
But the boar activity has not been confined to the largely rural settings of the Dongducheon enclave or the remote Story complex.
Even Camp Red Cloud, which is in an almost entirely built-up area of Uijeongbu, one not far from several high-rise apartment complexes and with a stretch of highway outside its main gate, has had an encounter, officials said.
It happened around 7:50 a.m. Sept. 24 when a wild boar hoofed into Camp Red Cloud through its main gate, said Rodney McCoy of the garrison's Directorate of Emergency Services.
A security guard spotted it and called the Military Police and the Korean fire department, which joined in what became about an hour's search for the beast, McCoy said. It was never found.
Hoping to avert further problems, garrison officials said they will take several actions in the coming week or two:
• Build three traps, one of each to be placed at the locations where boars have done damage or been seen roaming: the building on Camp Hovey where boars tore up the ground; the Hovey Cut; and the Dragon Valley.
• Work out a formal arrangement with Korean authorities under which local wild animal control officers would come and remove any trapped boar.
• Set up a telephone hotline between the garrison and local fire departments, which in Korea often play a key role in quickly notifying animal control authorities about problems with wild animals.
• Post signs within the installations to alert passersby to the potential presence of wild boar. The signs will include a phone number to call if boar are spotted.
• Emplace concertina wire, when warranted, around grave mounds. This will be mainly at remote ranges like those on the Story complex, and not in places that would endanger passersby.
Wild boar can be ferocious if threatened, said Langford, and safety from boar attack starts with staying as far from them as possible.
But if a boar is met up close, the first thing to do is to keep calm, stand stock-still, make no sudden motions that would alarm the animal, and conceal fear, partly by staring it straight in the eyes, Langford said.
Then, slowly, calmly, try to back away in the hope that the boar won't charge. If a tree is nearby, climbing it if possible is advisable but it's important to get six to eight feet up. Boar can jump several feet and can thrust upward with their tusks.
South Korea in recent years has seen a growing number of incidents in which wild boar leave their woodland habitats and venture into cities and towns, sometimes even making their way into buildings where they send occupants dashing for safety, said Pak I-kyong, an environmental engineer with the garrison's Environmental Division.
Boars eat virtually anything, including roots, seeds, acorns, berries, grass, leaves, small trees, eggs, mice, small lizards, worms, snakes, frogs, and other animals, said Pak. They've been known to attack larger animals, including goats. They've injured or killed humans.
"We have had several encounters with wild boars but none of them have led to actual attacks," said Langford. "And this is probably most likely what we will see around here. That boars are not going to attack unless they feel threatened.
"So basically, we're asking people, if you see a boar, leave it alone. Do not go near it. Do not aggravate it."
If a boar is seen off-post the Korean emergency number -- 119 -- should be called.
Those who spot a boar on post should call the garrison's Directorate of Public Works at DSN 730-4131 or 730-4920. The call should be made whether the boar is caught in a trap or roaming free.
"So just notify," said Langford. "We will then take care of notification of Korean authorities.
"The goal is that they would come and assist us if it's free-roaming," he said. "Hopefully, tranquilize it and remove it. And if it's in the cage, accept responsibility for the transfer of the hog."