'Out of control': Legislation introduced to downsize California's wild pig population

In recent years, wild pigs have increasingly become a bigger nuisance to home landscaping and gardens, as they multiply rapidly, and agribusiness is experiencing their destructive power. 

There are now and estimated 9 million wild pigs, known as feral pigs across the U.S, expanding their ranges from 17 states 30 years ago to 39 states today doing some $2.5 billion in to property and livestock. California's likely million plus wild pigs are in almost all counties. 

"The science shows there's just way too many of these animals in our environment," said Senator Bill Dodd, (D) North Bay.

Senator Dodd introduced legislation that would help control California’s growing wild pig population, reducing damage caused by the invasive species to the environment, private property and agriculture. 

"All the environmental damage, the damages to our agricultural community and to our recreational communities, I just thought this was something important to do," said Dodd. The goal is to streamline the bureaucratic process to make it quicker and far less expensive for licensed hunters to reduce wild pig populations. 

"And you only need to go once and that's it," said Dodd. "They create a lot of erosion challenges on our vineyards and actually on all our ag land," said Tawny Tesconi of the Sonoma County Farm Bureau.

Drought draws the pig agricultural lands, especially North Bay vineyards. "Because the dirt has already been worked and it's soft, the pigs do a lot of rutting in the vineyards and they actually eat a lot of the vines as well," said Ms. Tesconi.

Wild pigs compete with native wild and domesticated species and sometimes fight with them over food. "They can carry a lot of disease, and spread disease to livestock and actually to humans as well," said Tesconi.

SEE ALSO: Wild pigs destroy winery owners' front yard in Livermore

The University of California researchers say wild pigs are susceptible to at least 30 transmittable livestock diseases, 20 of which can be transmitted to humans. They can be host over 35 types of parasites.  

"They are all distant cousins of domesticated pigs that were brought over here in the 1800s, and they've just been allowed, over time, to get out of control," said Senator Dodd.

With likely more than a million wild pigs there's no way they can be eradicated but bringing them under control is good for public health and animal health. After more than 200 years here, the pigs have settled in like so many other Californians who came from somewhere else.