STERLING – Loose pigs have attracted the notice of City Hall.
On April 3, a pig was spotted two times near the Mobil convenience store at East Lincolnway and Polo Road. A photo, printed in Sauk Valley Media, showed a man on a car apparently trying to get away from the staring hog.
Last Friday, Mayor Skip Lee met with officials at City Hall about pigs that have escaped from a farm near Sterling's retail district on East Lincolnway. With him were representatives of the Mobil station and the sheriff's and police departments.
The farmer, Norm Koster, said today that he expects to remove the hogs from the farm in a couple of weeks because he plans to plant corn there this year. He suspects that female pigs have escaped because they were in heat and looking for male companions.
When it rains, the hogs tend to root around in the soil and then put wet dirt against the electric fence, which shorts it out, Koster said. That allows pigs to get under the wire and roam outside the farm.
In a letter to the editor last week, Sterling resident Barb Ruiz objected to the loose pigs.
"The same hog getting loose from its pen twice on the same day? Sounds like you aren't too concerned about keeping your livestock inside the fences," she wrote. "I dread the thought of what could happen if one of your hogs is roaming on Polo Road or state Route 2 in the dark of the night."
Lee said the city wanted to look into the matter.
"We are talking with the state of Illinois to see that we can protect Mr. Koster's rights to farm his land and to ensure public safety," the mayor said. "There is really no jurisdiction other than the state that can regulate farm animals."
Jeff Squibb, a spokesman for the state Department of Agriculture, said local law enforcement officials can impound animals that are running at large.
If an owner doesn't claim an impounded animal within 10 days, then the impounding agency can sell the animal, the proceeds of which can pay for the impounding.
Last July, Koster moved pigs to his 120-acre farm, where he had grown corn and soybeans for more than 30 years. This winter, the farm had 2,400 pigs.
He said escapes happened three times that he knows of. Since April 3, none of the pigs has gotten loose.