Plan to Deal with Feral Pigs in San Diego County Approved

A wild pig in Santa Clara County.
A wild pig in Santa Clara County. | Photo: Don McCullough/Flickr/Creative Commons License

A program designed to control the population of wild pigs causing environmental damage by scrounging for food in San Diego's backcountry was unanimously approved this week by the county Board of Supervisors.

According to a staff report, the pigs -- numbering about 1,000 -- have caused significant damage in and around Lake Morena County Park by rooting for food and wallowing in bodies of water.

"They're a big problem in the (East County) region, and it's high time that we get this problem under control before they spread into other areas," board Chairwoman Dianne Jacob. "Obviously, these feral picks have already caused some serious damage at Lake Morena."

Local, state, and federal officials, along with representatives of local Indian tribes, have been meeting about the feral pig problem for four years. According to a staff report, the pigs have been spotted from Palomar Mountain to the north, throughout Cuyamaca State Park and down to Potrero, near the border with Mexico.

The action by the supervisors calls for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to implement a population control plan for the pigs, which reproduce at a rapid rate. The pigs were first spotted locally around 10 years ago.

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The plan calls for setting up traps and shooting those animals that are caught, shooting them outside of traps when necessary, and firing at them from helicopters.

The state DFW will determine who will take part in the control program. County officials said hunters will not be allowed.

The board's action also amended the county code to allow the parks director the authority to have firearms used on invasive, nonnative animals that are harming the environment.

Supervisor Bill Horn said the new ordinance will not affect a landowner's right to use a firearm on his or her property.

According to county staff, feral pigs can carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans and farm animals, and could introduce pathogens to the water supply. They were first introduced to California by Spanish and Russian settlers in the 1700s, according to the state DFW.

State and federal environmental reviews have been completed. No members of the public spoke for or against the plan.

With contributions by KCET Staff.

For ongoing environmental coverage in March 2017 and afterward, please visit our show Earth Focus, or browse Redefine for historic material.
KCET's award-winning environment news project Redefine ran from July 2012 through February 2017.

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