In this file:


·         America's pig problem

·         Trapper tells how he caught, killed 19 wild pigs in Lafayette



America's pig problem


The Week

Feb 8, 2020


How many feral hogs are there?


Their population has exploded to an estimated 6 million across 39 states, with the greatest concentration in the South, particularly Texas. Feral hogs — also known as wild boars, wild pigs, and "razorbacks" — are prodigious breeders, have few natural predators, and are voracious, causing $2.5 billion in damage to farms and ecosystems annually. Like all pigs, the feral variety are omnivores and will devour anything they can tear up with their long snouts and 6-inch-long, razor-sharp tusks, including crops, gardens, frogs, worms, eggs, and even deer and lambs. They favor plants, and 50-pig herds, or "sounders," can empty whole fields of corn or wheat overnight. The invasive species has spread far and wide largely because it is well adapted to its environment and breeds so rapidly, with ranchers and hunters making the problem worse by trucking wild hogs into new areas so they can be shot for sport. Hunting them to control their population hasn't worked: You'd have to shoot 70 percent of the feral pig population every year just to keep it static.


Where did the hogs come from?


Their roots on this continent can be traced to Spanish conquistador Hernando de Soto, who brought black Iberian pigs to America around 1540. The pigs flourished in the New World, with some escaping to create a feral population. These wild pigs would later crossbreed with Eurasian wild boar brought into the U.S. for hunting in the 1890s and 1930s, producing what Canadian animal science professor Ryan Brook calls "a super pig" — weighing 200 to 500 pounds, capable of running up to 30 mph (or faster than sprinter Usain Bolt), and equipped with a wily intelligence that enables them to learn from their experiences. "They're one of the smartest animals on the planet," says wildlife biologist Alan Leary. They're also among the most prolific: Female hogs, or sows, begin breeding at around 6 months old and crank out two litters of four to 12 piglets every year. The hogs live five to eight years and are adapting to more northern climates, with their thick fur letting them migrate toward Canada. They've also learned to keep warm in colder states by burrowing into the snow to create "pigloos."


Are they a threat to humans? ...


Can their population be controlled? ...


Can they be eaten? ...


The threat of African swine fever ... 





Trapper tells how he caught, killed 19 wild pigs in Lafayette

Davies, an experienced outdoorsman, is praised for role in city’s war against feral animals.


By Jon Kawamoto, Bay Area News Group

via Mercury News (CA) - February 8, 2020


LAFAYETTE — When wild pigs were destroying a Lafayette park and tearing up front yards last October, the city didn’t have to look far to find someone to save the day.


In nearby Moraga lives Chris Davies, a lifelong outdoors enthusiast and hunter who’s also a state licensed trapper. He was already on another assignment removing wild pigs when he heard about the chaos at Lafayette Community Park.


“When this happened, I knew they were going to have to hire a trapper,” said Davies, who contacted the city.


Davies and his new firm, Full Boar Depredation LLC, were hired in December to find and kill the wild pigs that caused $25,000 in damage to the Lafayette Community Park.


After installing cameras in the park and building a 20-foot diameter, 5-foot-tall corral — which he monitored remotely at homey, waking up as early as 2 a.m. — he rounded up 19 wild pigs on Christmas night and killed them the next morning. State Fish and Wildlife Department’s depredation rules call for killing invasive species instead of relocating the animals.


Last week, the city declared victory — for now — in its war against the wild pigs and reopened all the park’s trails.


Davies showed up at Lafayette Community Park this week to describe how he trapped the feral pigs and killed them. He also showed the damage the pigs caused in the park and inside the corral that imprisoned them.


“With pigs, they’re everywhere — there’s so many in California and they cause so much damage,” Davies said. “It’s not hunting — I’m not hunting here. I’m trapping them. I’m getting rid of an invasive species that, quite frankly, has no business being here causing millions of dollars in damage a year.”


Davies said his knowledge as a trapper is “100 percent experience.” He can tell what type of food — acorns — they were feeding on, and the size of a wild pig just by looking at footprints.


“Pigs are really smart animals,” he said. “With that being said, you can pattern them pretty well. If there’s a reliable food source somewhere, they’re going to hit that food source till it’s gone and depleted and move on to the next one.”


He said the Lamorinda area — with its open fields, isolated creeks, hills and ridges — is ideal terrain for the wild pigs.


“There’s pigs everywhere around here and there’s always been for the longest time,” he said. “They’re not going anywhere, but what we can do as trappers, we can remove them from areas where they’re causing damage. And next month, we can get a whole new group coming in doing the same thing. Absolutely. There’s no way to prevent that.”


Knowing that pigs have a keen sense of smell much like dogs — they can pick up a scent a few miles away — he built a corral below the park’s fields, left the gate open and put in his “pig bait”...