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Keep Me Wild: Wild Pig

California is “hog heaven” for wild pigs

The relationship between California residents and wild pigs could be described as “love / hate.” That is, hunters love them while everyone else seems to hate them. Classified as a game mammal in California, wild pigs provide year-round hunting opportunity.

California’s wild pigs are descendents of the European wild boar, introduced to Monterey County, California in the 1920s; and domestic swine, imported by European settlers in the 1700s. Domestic swine foraged freely, eventually becoming semi-wild, or “feral.” Over time, they interbred with the European boar. Today’s California wild pig is actually a wild boar/feral pig hybrid.

The physical characteristics of a California wild pig vary significantly throughout the state. Some exhibit the long hair and snouts, small erect ears and angular shaped bodies of their wild boar ancestors, while others have short hair, long floppy ears, and a barrel-shaped body. Colors range from solid black to red, striped, grizzled or spotted.

Even if you don’t see wild pigs, evidence of their presence is obvious – it could be as benign as a few pig tracks, or an entire hillside that looks like it’s been worked over with a rototiller. Wild pigs use their snouts to root up the ground in search of food, including roots, fungus, and other items. As omnivores, they also consume garden landscape plants and agricultural crops.

There are laws in California that provide landowners with a variety of options for addressing wild pig-related property damage:

  • Let hunters solve your wild pig problems by allowing them hunt on your property. Contact a local sportsman’s group or advertise the opportunity locally. As the landowner, you set the rules regarding who hunts, when, for how long, and which hunting method is allowed (rifle, shotgun, pistol, archery, etc.). It’s the hunter’s responsibility to make sure he/she has the required license and tags.
  • Purchase a hunting license and wild pig tags, and go hunting on your property. Make sure you follow local ordinances pertaining to the discharge of firearms and use of archery equipment. See more information about hunting wild pigs in California.
  • Allow CDFW to conduct a hunt on your property. There is no charge, and CDFW may even make improvements to your land to conduct the hunt – for example, graveling roads, repairing gates and mending fences. For more information contact CDFW’s Wild Pig Management Program.
  • Request a depredation permit from CDFW that will allow you to hunt for pigs on your property any time during the day or night. No hunting license is required. To obtain a depredation permit, contact your local CDFW office. Under this option, you may keep the wild pig carcass or give it to another person but it cannot be sold.
  • Immediately kill pigs that you encounter on your property while conducting routine activities. A hunting license is required but no additional tags are needed if you are the landowner, an agent of the landowner or an employee of the landowner. Under this option, you may keep the wild pig carcass or give it to another person but it cannot be sold. You must notify CDFW within 24 hours of killing the pig to describe what was done with the carcass. Contact your regional CDFW office or CDFW’s Wild Pig Management Program.

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wild pig

Identification

wild pig grazing
Wild pigs can be black, red, spotted, striped, or grizzled.

field of turned soil where wild pigs rooted for food
Wild pigs use their snouts to root up the ground in search of food.