If you’re looking for a reason not to wander the woods at night, this story is for you: A hunter recently shot a monstrous wild pig weighing in at 500 pounds.

According to a CNN story:

“Jett Webb killed the massive animal last month in eastern North Carolina. When the amazing pictures of the animal and hunter recently circulated on the Internet, Webb started fielding calls from the media….’They were blown away. It’s not every day you see something that size,’ Webb said. ‘They can’t believe something that big is running around the woods of eastern North Carolina.’ Webb and a few other of his fellow hunters at the White Oak Ranch Hunting Club had been tracking the massive hog since January on surveillance cameras they have placed throughout their hunting grounds.”

Webb shot the beast with a .308-caliber AR-10 assault rifle. The meat, Webb noted, provided so much pork that it filled his deep freezer and he gave a lot of it away to friends and neighbors. Wild boars are considered an invasive species in the region and are hunted year round.

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When photos of the big pig were shared on social media last week, many suspected a hoax. But wild hogs can grow surprisingly large, and the animal is real. This is only the latest of several so-called “Hogzillas” that have surfaced over the years.

The Original Hogzilla

The original Hogzilla, a monstrous beast said to be 12 feet long and tip the scales at 1,000 pounds, was shot and killed on a Georgia hunting reserve in 2004. Photos spread of the “mutant” pig with huge, razor-sharp tusks that could easily disembowel anyone who dared to get close enough. The story made international news and was accompanied by photographs that, while not exactly faked, definitely exaggerated the animal’s size, as the mythbusting web site Snopes.com noted.

Photographs of these huge boars — like photographs of prize fish — are often made to appear larger than they really are using a simple camera trick of forced perspective. By having the trophy animal close to the camera lens and those posing with it slightly farther back, genuinely large beasts appear all the more gigantic.

A team of scientists with National Geographic studied Hogzilla and debunked some of the more outlandish claims about it. First of all, Hogzilla was not a “mutant.” It was in fact a hybrid of a domestic pig and a wild boar — because both belong to the biological family Suidae, interbreeding is not only possible by fairly common. Secondly, the beast was about 800 pounds instead of 1,000.

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There is reason to be skeptical of many Hogzilla claims. For one thing, it would be virtually impossible for a foraging wild pig to reach half a ton in body weight. A domestic pig is another story, and might reach that weight if fed on a steady diet of professional-grade agricultural feed and family table scraps — not to mention growth hormones. But finding a feral boar with that body mass would be very unlikely. In 2007 an eleven-year-old boy claimed to have single-handedly shot and killed a wild boar weighing over 1,000 pounds, but many questions were raised about the story.

The latest Hogzilla is real enough, and will feed Mr. Webb’s friends and family for months to come.

Photo: iStock