Burgeoning wild pigs force parks to hire trappers

The Associated Press
Monday May 21, 2001



MOUNT DIABLO – Several Bay Area state parks have resorted to hiring “hit men” to rid natural areas of a number of cloven-hoofed marauders. 

Naturalists and local wild land managers said they have now begun to control the region’s burgeoning wild pig population. 

The pigs are legendary for transforming green areas into muddy, furrowed plots with their rooting, while destroying the habitats of other animals.  

It is estimated that the area’s wild pig population ranges anywherefrom the hundreds to the thousands. 

The pigs, which were first sighted in the 1980s, are not native to California and accounts of how they got here vary. But park officials agree the porkers are here to stay. 

State funding dictates efforts to trap pigs in state and local parks. Since recreational hunting is not allowed in public parks, park and utility districts must either send members of their own staffs pig hunting or hire professional trappers. 

The “hit man” approach has proven effective, but there are costs associated. 

In Mount Diablo State Park, officials have quietly dispatched 244 wild pigs over the last two-and-a-half years. The park has a five-year contract with its trapper to the tune of $100,000. And pig money can dry up as fast as a mud-hole in July during tight budget years. 

“I would say there’s about 80 percent less damage (on Mount Diablo) since I started,” one trapper, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Contra Costa Times. The trapper said he wished to maintain a low profile to avoid possible animal rights controversies. 

He said pig control programs require constant maintenance year-round. Areas without such programs can become overrun with the swine in just a few years. 

“The pigs cannot multiply faster than I can kill them,” the trapper said.