“Police shoot hogs to save levees near Burlington.” This is a recent headline story from the Des Moines Register. Apparently, the hogs are coming from a hog confinement facility that flooded in Oakville, Iowa (the site of some of the most severe flooding in the state). I’m not a fan of hog confinement operations. They stink. The smells emanating from their lagoons are atrocious and the treatment of the hogs inside stinks worse than the hogs themselves. I understand the rationale for killing these animals to save the levee. However, I do not have to like it.
Des Moines County Sheriff’s Department deputies are shooting hogs that are destroying the top of a levee north of town that is protecting thousands of acres of farm ground and dozens of homes.
“We don’t like having to do this, but we don’t have any choice,” said Sheriff Mike Johnstone.
The hogs are being shot as they appear on top of a drainage ditch levee that is holding back several miles of floodwater that poured into the area when an Iowa River levee near Oakville broke Saturday. The water moves south and enters what is known here as the “big ditch” and is carried on an east-west route to the Mississippi River. The threatened levee holds the water in the ditch.
The hogs are from confinement facilities from the flooded Oakville area. Many drowned when the Oakville levee broke, but those that survived have been swept south by the current and are seeking high ground. And the levee is the only nearby ground.
“They’re crawling up the side of the levee and breaking down the plastic and the sandbags on the top,” said Johnstone. “It is destroying the levee. There’s no way to contain the hogs or round them up and there’s no way to get them out of the water.”
The animals are being shot with AR-15 rifles, Johnston said. He said about 15 had been killed as of early afternoon Wednesday. It is unknown how many hogs are in the area, but it is estimated to be in the hundreds “They get on top of the levee and try to jump over a three-foot berm at the top and their hooves are puncturing the plastic and tearing up the bags,” Johnston said. “If that levee breaks it’ll flood from there to Burlington.”
It’s an area about three miles wide and 12 miles long.