California wild hog hunting bill wins state Senate approval

The California State Senate has approved a bill to promote the hunting of feral pigs, a non-native species blamed for increasing property damage around farms, vineyards and suburban neighborhoods.

Legislation drafted by Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, would relax existing regulations and allow unlimited harvests under an annual $15 tag.

“My bill seeks to control destructive non-native feral pigs, which endanger sensitive habitats, farms and other animals,” Dodd said in a statement. “We need to multiply the opportunities to hunt them in order to control their numbers.

Feral pigs are descended from pigs freed by Spanish missionaries and other European settlers 250 years ago and are now found in 56 of the state’s 58 counties.

In addition to their damage to the ecology, feral pigs can carry a host of diseases that can be transmitted to humans.

Dodd’s bill is now heading to the state Assembly for a potential vote. To become law would also require Governor Gavin Newsom’s signature.

The bill would replace the state’s wild pig tag, which costs $15 per kill, with a season-long validation, also for $15, that allows unlimited harvests. The new rules would come into effect on July 1, 2023.

In Sonoma County, Lake Sonoma is the only public land open to hog hunters, especially bow and arrow and crossbow hunters from November through March.

You can reach editor Ethan Varian at ethan.varian@pressdemocrat.com or 707-521-5412. On Twitter @ethanvarian

Edward K. Thompson