California Lifts All Limits on Feral Hog Hunting Despite Backlash From Hunters

by Taylor Cunningham
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California Governor Gavin Newsom recently passed a bill that will allow hunters to kill an unlimited amount of feral hogs, which has earned him high praise from fellow politicians. But hunters are asking Newsom to rethink his plans.

Senate Bill 856 passed on Thursday, Sept 22 with a unanimous vote. Aside from allowing unlimited kills, it also lowers the tag prices for hog hunting and seeks to legalize wild hogs at night.

California is currently dealing with a wild hog population that is growing out of control and affecting delicate ecosystems. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) estimates that around 400,000 feral hogs are living in the state. And not only are they taking a toll on the wild flora and fauna, but they’re also hurting the agricultural industry.

Supporters of the bill believe that the new hunting privileges will curb the growing nuisance and possibility fix the invasive pig problem permanently.

“I commend the governor for bringing us a step closer to controlling our destructive wild pig population, which is exploding across California,” Senator Bill Dodd of Napa said in a press release. “These non-native, feral animals are endangering sensitive habitats, farms, and wildlife.”

“By increasing opportunities to hunt them, we can reduce the threat to our state,” he added.

Hunting Organizations Believe Unlimited Feral Hog Hunting Will Create New Problems

However, hunters have a different take on the matter. In their opinion, SB 856 will only create new problems. And in the months leading to the house vote, several hunting organizations, including the California Rifle and Pistol Association (CRPA), Safari Club International, California Houndsmen for Conservation, California Waterfowl, and Howl for Wildlife attempted to kill the bill.

CRPA Legislative Director Rick Travis spoke out against the plan saying that reducing feral hog hunting licenses will cut funding for conservation efforts, and unregulated night hunting will lead to more poaching. He also fears that agricultural businesses will hire professional cullers to remove pigs from their land. And that will take opportunities away from actual hunters.

Howl for Wildlife has collected almost 6,000 signatures that oppose SB 856, and its goal is 7,000. The organization believes that the “bad legislation” is simply aiming to cut hunting opportunities as a whole.

But it appears that SB 856 will remain intact as the state politicians and wildlife officials believe it’s the only opportunity to quell the feral hog problem. As it stands, the bill will go into full effect on July 1, 2024.

“I am deeply grateful to State Senator Dodd for his tireless efforts to get SB 856 passed,” CDFW Commissioner Eric Sklar said. “The unanimous votes in both houses and the governor’s signature are a testament to that effort. The bill will begin the process of reducing the extensive damage to habitat and property from feral pigs.”