Feral pigs are becoming a huge problem in California, wrecking ecosystems and putting native species in danger of losing their habitats and food sources. However, the state has taken a step forward in resolving the problem. On Tuesday, the new hunting bill has passed the state Senate’s approval.
On Tuesday, the California state Senate met to discuss the potential law and its effect on the state’s wildlife. State Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa first introduced the bill, SB 856, in January this year.
“We’re a step closer to controlling these destructive, nonnative animals which are endangering sensitive habitats, farms and other animals,” Dodd said in a statement.
Right now, California hunters take down an estimated 5,000 wild pigs, according to The Sacramento Bee. This is only a fraction of the 200,000 to 400,000 that are in the state.
California’s population of feral swine started as domesticated pigs that the Spanish and other European colonists set free as far back as 250 years ago. Now, the species has expanded its territory to 56 out of California’s 58 counties. With long tusks and an insatiable drive, feral pigs will frequently tear up vineyards, gardens, farmland and landscaping, resulting in costly damage. According to Press Democrat, wild pigs cause a nationwide bill of $2.5 billion a year for agricultural damage.
Not to mention, they also tend to carry quite a few diseases that are transmittable to humans.
Currently, locals can hunt feral pigs in California year-round. Meanwhile, Lake Sonoma is the only land open to wild pig hunting in Sonoma County. There, residents can use bow and arrow as well as crossbow from November to March.
What Does California’s New Feral Pig Hunting Bill Include?
The new bill that reached the state Senate’s hands-on Tuesday plans to expedite feral pig hunting by nixing the required tag which costs $15 per kill. Instead of using tags, hunters will only need a season-long validation, also $15, that allows for no bag limit.
Along with the state Senate’s approval, the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee also approved Dodd’s bill which revises the age of junior hunters. Right now, junior hunters are at most fifteen years old. However, Dodd suggested that the state raise the maximum to 17 years old. Junior hunting licenses cost only a little over $14, while adult licenses cost just over $52.
By getting rid of the tag limit, it’s likely that Dodd hopes this will encourage California hunters to bag more feral pigs each season. That paired with the low cost of the season license and the increased junior age will help the sport become more accessible to a wider population. Basically, more hunters plus unlimited kills equal fewer wild pigs wreaking havoc across the state.