For three weeks, Anne Arundel authorities have been on the trail of two fugitives in Linthicum. One was captured Thursday evening, but the other remains at large.
The target: potbelly pigs.
"Chasing down a pig can be impossible," Robin Small, administrator for Anne Arundel Animal Control, said of the animals that have taken up residence outside an office park at 601 N. Hammonds Ferry Road.
The pigs, which were first seen Sept. 2, have delighted workers at the office park near Baltimore-Washington Parkway.
"They're as cute as can be," said Karen Gower, an employee at the Red Wing Shoes store. "They don't bother anyone."
But that sentiment does not sway the county's animal control officers. Traps were set for — and ignored by — the pigs.
Until Thursday evening, that is, when one of the pigs, a 26-pound female, was captured with a net.
The other pig is thought to be male and of similar size. Small said that she and her colleagues will continue their efforts to capture it.
Gower and Will Jones, who also works at Red Wing Shoes, have grown fond of the pigs, which stayed in the grass next to the parking lot, they said.
Gower noticed that someone has been leaving food for the pigs in their favorite spot: a space between three large pine trees where the ground is coated with soft pine needles. Gower said she suspected Jones of being be the pig-feeder, but he would "neither confirm nor deny" his involvement, he said with a grin.
Kimberly Silvestro and Sarah Plymire, who work at Valley Lighting, share the warm feelings toward the newcomers.
"We should put a fence up [blocking the parkway] and keep them in," Silvestro said. "I think everyone's growing fond of them."
Plymire said that the pigs haven't caused any damage to the area and that no one has been bothered or harmed by their presence. "They mostly play," she said.
As endearing as they may be, Small said they cannot stay where they are for safety reasons. Because the area is right next to the highway, "they can be put in jeopardy," she said.
Susan Magidson, owner of a potbelly pig rescue farm, agreed, saying that the pigs must be captured and returned to a home. Because pigs can reproduce very quickly, the two potbellies could become "very much a public nuisance" if left in the wild for too long, she said.
"It just does not make sense not to capture them," she said.
Magidson, who has been rescuing potbelly pigs at her Pennsylvania farm for 20 years, has placed 1,200 pigs into homes in that time. She is the president of the Pig Placement Network — an Internet community that finds new homes for pigs — and will be working with Anne Arundel animal control officers to find homes for the two office-park potbellies, if needed.
Small said that the pigs, once caught, have to spend five days in the shelter to allow their owners time to reclaim them, but after that they will be available for adoption. Animal control officers are accepting applications for ownership of the captured female through the Pig Placement Network.
"We don't know how they got out there, where the pigs came from," Small said, but animal control officers are working as hard as they can to "provide for them a safe environment."