Assembly Bill 2805, written by Assemblyman Frank Bigelow, R-Madera, seeks to address California’s wild pig problem. The feral pigs that are now in 56 counties throughout the state are especially costly to California’s farmers and ranchers. According to the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee, the non-native pigs are causing approximately $2 million in commercial ag damage every year. That same analysis noted that the wild pig problem is also responsible for $4 million in ecological damage annually as well.
The bill itself would amend the status of wild pigs, also called feral hogs or wild boars, to be considered in a new category instead of being classified as a game species that is regulated similarly to deer, elk, and bear. Farmers are looking for more appropriate regulations that will allow them to confront the pig problem on their properties more aggressively.
Current recreational hunting activities are not effectively managing wild hog populations. There are less than 5,000 feral pigs killed annually, which is significantly less than what would be required to address the estimated 200,000 to 400,000 living in the state.
Wild pigs can be especially destructive due to their voracious appetites, eating grasses, fruits, roots and tubers. The pests also destroy fences and compete with livestock and other native species for food sources. Feral hogs are also known to carry several pathogens that can be dangerous to humans. The pigs are hosts to 35 types parasites that can affect several animal species and they can also carry potentially devastating diseases to domestic livestock and other wildlife.
Animal-rights and environmental groups have not voiced significant opposition to the bill that would allow more of the feral hogs to be eradicated, presumably because decreasing the wild pig population would benefit the environment and other native wildlife populations. A certain aspect of the legislation is actually supported by animal welfare and environmental groups. The bill prevents the use of poison bait to kill pigs, which could inadvertently hurt other animals. AB 2805 made its way through the California State Assembly in the spring with relative ease. The bill currently rests in the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water.