STOCKTON (CBS13) — The debate continues over whether swine were stolen or rescued from an island near Stockton.
Even though the animal rights group Farm Sanctuary says they got the proper paperwork and permission from the owner of Walters Island to rescue a group of pigs, the actual owner of the pigs says no one told him about removing them.
Roger Stevenson says he’s angry over the removal of his six pigs from the island and is looking to get them back.
“I feel like my personal property has been stolen from me and it’s been quite an effort and investment,” he said.
Three and a half years ago, Stevenson partnered with the owner of Walters Island to bring a group of pigs onto the property and help vegetate the land. The island, which is about five miles from Stockton, was quickly named “Pig Island,” by many locals.
“What hogs do, that other animals that are used for animal vegetation control don’t do, is they eat the roots and they kill the plants,” he said.
The director of the non-profit animal rights group, Farm Sanctuary says she received a tip the pigs were in trouble, abandoned and starving. She told CBS13, “all the group was trying to do is get them to a safe place,” but now, many Delta residents say they were rescued at all, instead they were stolen.
“The debate here is whether it’s humane to let hogs free range on an island and live off of vegetation and handouts from the locals, which is enjoyed by hundreds of people and a novelty here and is that more humane than raising them in a 5 by 10 pen,” said Stevenson.
We spoke with Sherry Johns, an ag instructor who has raised pigs and hogs for more than 30 years. She says using pigs for vegetation is not inhumane, but it can ruin your land.
“They are not very good for vegetated use because they tend to tear up the land and so, if they have a lot of brush to uproar then yeah it can be feasible for that,” she said.
John says anyone using pigs for vegetation has to be careful not to overpopulate an area, which can be done very easily. If that happens, it could result in not having enough vegetative growth or source of nutrition – but a farmer or a hog producer would already know that.
“If an animal is not eating or something they are going to know it, with that regard, in that respect but they are not going to know the pig by that pigs name and this is — they are not going to know that,” said Johns.
Stevenson says he’s gone to the island and has spent more than 1,000 hours feeding and caring for the pigs. He’s filed a report with the sheriff’s office and plans to pursue legal action.
All six pigs remain at a veterinarian clinic at UC Davis. No word yet from the owner of the Walters Island.