California Hunters Worry Wild Pig Bill Is Setting the Stage for Anti-Hunting Legislation

by Megan Molseed
(Photo by Sylvain CORDIER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

California hunters are pushing back on new wild hog legislation that aims to help control the population of wild pigs throughout the state. The bill would reclassify the wild hogs from a game animal to an “exotic” species. Additionally, this new bill will ban the release of wild pigs on land, public or private throughout the state.

On the surface, this bill seems to be working for the hunters since will ultimately lift existing hunting restrictions. However, some groups say that this proposed bill will ultimately work against the interests of hunters.

“The proposed legislation from Senator Dodd was copied verbatim from the 2018 wild pig bill,” notes a statement on the Howl for Wildlife website. Howl for Wildlife is a non-profit group that focuses on advocating for California hunting rights. According to the website, this original bill was supported “in part by anti-hunters who wanted to eliminate hunting opportunity on private property.”

The Latest Wild Hog Bill Could Spell Trouble For Some Hunting Opportunities

Currently, California law allows for year-round hunting of wild hogs. And, there is currently no bag limit on the hunting of wild hogs. Additionally, the wild hog population in California is thought to be around 200,000 to 400,000. However, reports note that in the 2020-2021 hunting seasons, hunters only filled about 4,000 hog tags. Clearly, there is no shortage of wild hogs for hunters in California at all. And, this new bill will just make it easier to hunt the already high population of wild hogs.

So, what is it, exactly, that hunters are concerned about with the new wild hog bill? As it turns out, it all comes down to a certain hunting component, hunting in the preserves. The proposed bill states that a person “shall not engage in, sponsor, or assist in the operation of a contained hunting preserve…within this state.”

The bill then defines a hunting preserve as “any tract of land on which a fence or other apparatus is used to prevent the free-roaming of swine that are to be hunted and not used solely for domestic swine production.”

However, according to pro-hunting and conservation groups, this bill will have a negative impact on how the California Department of Fish and Wildlife can manage wild pigs. The groups also raise concerns that this bill could be the beginning of a series of legislation. Bills that would affect hunting rights in California.

Hunting Groups Argue That Hunting Preserves Provide Opportunities To Some Hunters

Furthermore, hunting groups are concerned the elimination of wild hog hunting preserves will have an impact on some hunters who would face challenges hunting outside of a reserve. Some pro-hunting groups explain that the hog operations targeted in the bill are important to the California hunting culture. These preserves provide the chance for hunters facing challenges to partake in the sport. Hunters such as the young, the elderly, and the disabled.