Culture

‘They aren’t native’: The wild pig problem in Monterey County


After a series of run-ins with agricultural workers and moving vehicles, the pig trapping permits flowed more easily. (Photo by Dan Burton)

Pigs running down the streets of Salinas?

“It’s not too far-fetched,” says Monterey County wildlife trapper Dan Burton of Urban Trapping Wildlife Control.

With incessant rain softening the ground and promoting plant and insect growth, Monterey County is experiencing a big pig problem. The wild boar/feral domestic pig hybrid mostly roams the foothills of the Santa Lucia range, both on the east side near the Salinas Valley and the west near Carmel and Carmel Valley. Local herds have been known to come into populated areas of Monterey County to dig up front lawns in search of grubs or uproot irrigation systems for a drink. The fertile herd grows like a weed and is equally as hard to get rid of. Wild game hunters and local wildlife trappers have their work cut out for them as Monterey County’s pig problem grows.

Modern-day Monterey County residents owe their impending pig problem to a lavish businessman named George Gordon Moore. In the early 1900s, Moore imported a dozen Eurasian boars from Russia and released them on his land, a parcel that is now part of the Santa Lucia Conservancy in Carmel Valley. The pigs he chose were spirited, with thick fur, short tails, and a razorback mane.

In a 1963 letter, Moore wrote: “The biggest boar we ever killed on the ranch, when hung, measured 9 feet from tip to tip. The skin on his neck was 3 inches thick; 11 bullets were found which over the years had been imbedded in the fat.

“The last time I saw William Randolph Hearst, Sr., he said, ‘Your pigs have reached San Simeon.’”

The pigs paid no mind to the borders of Moore’s property, and their knack for survival drove them to breed with local domestic pigs brought by the Spanish — hardy animals that grow like goldfish, that is, until you stop feeding them. Big-bodied domestic pigs have hallmark “Babe” features like curly tails and big, floppy ears. Nowadays, the roaming wild pig population of California is a characteristic and disgruntled mix of the two. The temperamental mutts are easily recognizable by their big ears, long curly tails, coarse fur and intimidating size.

After a series of run-ins with agricultural workers and moving vehicles, the pig trapping permits flowed more easily. (Photo by Dan Burton) 

Poet Robinson Jeffers immortalized the history of the pigs in his poem, “Steelhead, Wild Pig, The Fungus”

And the grizzlies

Extinct, a wealthy amateur up the Carmel Valley brought in wild pigs

From the Urals to stock his hunting-park: they overswarmed it and broke his

borders and roam the coast-range, beautiful

Monsters, full of fecundity, bristled like a hedge at midnight; and the boars

with long naked

Knives in their jaws. They lair all day in impenetrable manzanita-thickets of

the farther mountain

And whet their knives at night on the farmer’s apple-trees.”

California ranks in the top 10 states “most impacted by feral hogs.” According to a 2018 report by the California Fish and Wildlife Department, wild pigs currently exist in 56 of the state’s 58 counties. Monterey County has the highest concentration of wild pigs in the state. Some estimates put the herd at …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

      

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