San Diego County’s Wild Pig Problem

San Diego County has a pig problem. The Los Angeles Times reports that several hundred wild pigs have become a serious threat to the county’s native flora and fauna. The invasive species has no natural predators, reproduces quickly and easily and when it comes to diet — well, there’s a reason that over-eating is sometimes known as “pigging out.”

Weighing up to 300 pounds when fully grown, the feral hogs are ferocious foragers. Biologists are concerned that the wild pigs are unfair competition for the native deer population. They are also worried for the county’s ground-nesting birds.

But the pigs may pose an even greater danger to plant life. Their range includes areas of San Diego county recently ravaged by wildfires, and the pigs are eating new-growth trees. Coastal live oaks and black oaks are also impacted by the wild hogs. The oak trees in San Diego are already weakened by climate change and infestations of the gold-spotted oak borer. It doesn’t help that the pigs have an appetite for acorns.

Cleveland National Forest supervisor William Metz told the LA Times that “[f]urther stress caused by pigs could present a significant problem in oak habitats”.

The Forest Service and Department of Fish and Game are working with local officials as well as representatives of the Barona band of Mission Indians and the Viejas band of Kumeyaay Indians, whose sovereign lands overlap with the wild pigs’ habitat, to develop a solution. The proposal includes trapping the pigs or hiring professional aerial hunters. The hunters would likely shoot the feral hogs from a helicopter.

PETA opposes the plan. Martin Mersereau, the organization’s director of cruelty investigations, spoke out against the proposed hunting. “The feral pigs are there through no fault of their own,” Merseau told the LA Times. PETA has called aerial hunting “crueler than cruel,” according to the Times.

In addition to the cruelty posed by hunting, it’s still a flawed solution. The pigs’ population numbers could easily rise again due to their extreme fertility. Or even if the hogs were fully exterminated, more of the animals could migrate from a neighboring region. According to the Times’ estimate, 56 of California’s 58 counties also have feral pigs.

“Even if all the pigs were to be removed [from San Diego county], the potential for wild pigs repopulating the area remains,” Metz said.

Unfortunately, as with any invasive species problem, there’s no easy answer. A public hearing may be held later this month to discuss the proposed eradication plan.

Related Stories

Texas: “Hog Out” Is Out Of Line!

Monsanto’s Mutant Alfalfa and the Feral Pig Invasion

More Than 1 Million Feral Camels are Taking Over the Australian Outback


Photo credit: ufoncz


Lynn C.
Lynn C.3 years ago


Diane L.
Diane L.5 years ago

Oh, and as for "SPAY,NEUTER,RELEASE", not a real option with feral pigs. They first have to be caught and they aren't easy to catch. Secondly, releasing them isn't going to stop the damage they do until they die. It's hardly comparable to feral cats.

Diane L.
Diane L.5 years ago

Pattianne, first of all, you assume there is a GOD. Not everyone is religious. Secondly, you use the word YOU in caps to insinuate that we, the members who have commented in this discussion on an internet blog (Care.2) are responsible for this species becoming so out of control. I know that I, for one, had nothing to do with the over-population of feral pigs in San Diego County, in Texas or anywhere else, for that matter. Would I condone letting them run a-muck in my back yard just because I didn't turn them loose back there? Nope. Have you ever seen domestic pigs who get out of their pen? If you've seen the damage one domestic pig can do, then stop and think about what HUNDREDS, if not THOUSANDS of them in a suburban neighborhood can do! Watch a few nature programs on TV......Steve Irwin (The Crocodile Hunter) had a re-run recently about mice in Australia.......again, no natural predators except one species of snake and they've destroyed everything in their paths! What difference does it make if they got there "accidently" on a ship?

Pamela Plambeck
Pamela Plambeck5 years ago


...we can be an invasive species too.

pattianne pascual

" Eradication IS the answer,you pack of latter-day hippies! Yes, the pigs are there through no fault of their own,but so what?They're imperiling ecosystems and they need to be gotten rid of.And yes, eradicating them in one county will not be enough... so eradicate them over a wider area and keep their numbers down!"In my opinion, substitute the word"humans" for pigs. this comment fits exactly what should be done to the morons who come on care2 to make idiotic comments,calls us names,and think they rule the world.p.s.there are other humans,beings,and an entire world out there,besides yourself, that could do without your ignorant thinking.

pattianne pascual

"have become a serious threat to the county’s native flora and fauna. The invasive species has no natural predators,reproduces quickly and easily and when it comes to diet —"THOSE VERY SAME WORDS CAN BE USED TO DESCRIBE THE MAJORITY OF HUMANS.SO SHOULD WE BE "ERADICATED"? humans have caused a trillion times more damage to the earth,water,etc,than any group of animals ever have.Stop thinking you are God,you are worse than the animals in this respect,God gave those animals life, and God has the right to take that life away,NOT YOU.especially since your actions and in-actions are the cause of this problem.

colleen p.
colleen p.5 years ago

people like to use photos of the children of problem animals. if you show a photo of a coyote pup and "how could you hurt me?" and then show a photo of an adult coyote eating a cat, with the same slogan, it won't have the same effect.

showing baby pigs and "how could you hurt them", then show "daddy pig" will (IMO) not have the same feeling. these grow into

people will symphitize with the young ones. not seeing a full grown male with his big tusks.

Susan S.
Susan s.5 years ago

I don't understand Colleen's comment. It is stupid with little constructive value.. These animals are doing considerable in other parts of the country as well. In the southeast they are being hunted my hunters with dogs and the dogs are run down and killed. they are out of control in many areas.

colleen p.
colleen p.5 years ago

stop showing baby piglets on things like this. you don't show smiling babies on human issues do you?

Tim Cheung
Tim C.5 years ago