California feral pig hunting bill wins state Senate panel OK

Responding to growing complaints of damage by foraging wild pigs in Wine Country, state Sen. Bill Dodd introduced a measure to expedite hunting the invasive species|

A bill intended to promote hunting of wild pigs, a free-ranging species damaging property throughout California, won approval Tuesday from a state Senate committee.

“We’re a step closer to controlling these destructive, nonnative animals which are endangering sensitive habitats, farms and other animals,” state Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, said in a statement regarding SB 856, the bill he introduced in January.

Feral swine descended from pigs set free by Spanish missionaries and other European colonists as far back as 250 years ago are now found in 56 of the state’s 58 counties.

Rooting for food with sharp tusks and long snouts, the omnivorous pigs tear up vineyards, gardens and the rural and suburban landscape and carry a host of diseases that can be transferred to humans.

Wild pig depredations on agriculture nationwide are estimated to cost $2.5 billion a year.

The swine are open to year-round hunting in California. In Sonoma County, Lake Sonoma is the only public land open to pig hunters, specifically bow and arrow and crossbow hunters from November to March.

Dodd’s bill aims to expedite pig hunting by replacing the wild pig tag, which costs $15 per kill, with a season-long validation, also for $15, that allows an unlimited number of harvests.

The Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee also approved Dodd’s bill SB 865, which boosts the maximum age for a junior hunting license from 15 to 17. Junior licenses cost $14.04; adult licenses are $52.66.

Both bills now go to the Appropriations Committee.

You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 707-521-5457 or On Twitter @guykovner.

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