Death of Oregon farmer eaten by own hogs investigated

Raquel Erhard – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Bandon, OR, United States (4E) – Authorities have started the probe, last Monday, of the death of a 70-year-old Coos County farmer whose remains were found in his hog’s enclosure Wednesday morning.

According to authorities, Terry Vance Garner left around 7:30 a.m. to feed the animals, some of which weigh as much as 700 pounds. After several hours, a family member checked on him and discovered his dentures plus other traces in the hog pen.

It was reported that the hogs had eaten most of Garner and the remains left have been sent to the University of Oregon’s forensic anthropologist to examine the cause of death.

Coos County District Attorney Paul Frasier said that investigation is being done to eliminate foul play because “for all we know, it was a horrific accident, but it’s so doggone weird that we have to look at all possibilities.”

Frasier stated that they are looking into chances that Garner might have collapsed into the pen after a heart attack or the animals could have shoved him down and then feasted on him.

Investigators said that Michael Garner, the farmer’s brother, informed them that one of the sows had behaved aggressively and bitten the farmer last year after he stepped on a piglet unintentionally.

Garner wanted to kill it but changed his mind, said his brother.

John Killefer, head of the Animal and Rangeland Sciences Department at Oregon State University in Corvallis, dubbed the Garner case both “very unfortunate” and highly unusual.

He added that domestic hogs are characteristically not aggressive as their feral cousins but there is always a percentage of danger related with any animal and emphasized that pigs are more omnivorous than other farm animals.

Killefer also noted that the 700-pound pigs being breeded in Garner’s farm are abnormally large.

Garner, a Vietnam veteran who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, considered his farm a life-saver.

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