- Author: Robert J Keiffer
- photo provided: Jack Booth
Wild pigs, feral pigs, feral hogs, or whatever you want to call them, are resident large animals found in many California counties. These non-native critters became well established in the North Coast many decades ago, stemming from left-over open-range farm flocks from the 1800's through the 1940's, and from illegal but purposeful movement by clandestine efforts to increase sport hunting. I have been told that many Sonoma County and Mendocino County feral pig populations really got a foot-hold during the depression era of the 1930's when banks foreclosed upon ranch properties, gathered up any profitable livestock for sale, but left the range-run hogs as they were not economically worth gathering at the time.
Wild pigs are usually viewed as, 1) a great sport hunting opportunity, or 2) a menace to rangelands and land managers... and these view points, of course, differ based upon perspective. Here at the UC Hopland REC, wild pigs have become more common over the last 15 years, but their presence has low tolerance due to the potential risk of destructive damage to research plots.
Control of wild pigs at HREC is carried out under the California Dept. of Fish & Game's ""Immediate Take" law, which is Fish & Game Code 4181.1. This relatively unknown law allows the owner of livestock, land, or property, or that person's agent or employee, to immediately take any wild pig encountered upon that is damaging, destroying, or threatening to damage/destroy land or property. No hunting license nor sport-hunting pig tag is required under these circumstances, but the DFG Regional Office must be notified within 24 hours. Concise guidelines to this law can be found at:
The UC Hopland Research & Extension Center is home to the University of California's only range sheep flock. The Center now owns and manages a sheep flock rated at 650 breeding ewes in number. So, counting adult breeding age ewes, replacement one-year old ewes, rams, and lambs born this spring, the Center currently has about 1600 head of sheep "out standing in their fields" right now.
Here in the photo, one sees a small portion of that flock munching away at the annual forage growth which was slow growing to start with but is now kicking it into "high gear" with the recent rains and warmer temperatures.
The UC Hopland Research & Extension Center (HREC) may be a long name ....but it encompasses an important part of the REC's mission which is "extension" of knowledge to the community and region. Extension work, which may be called "outreach", has been an important component of HREC's staff and researchers work for many years.
With a variety of backgrounds and expertise amongst HREC's staff and researchers, HREC has the ability to provide current, educational, and interesting information to the local community through direct interaction. Here you see Bob Keiffer, HREC Superintendent, presenting the "Wildlife Conservation" topic to a certified hunter safety class. Over the last decade or so, Keiffer has provided this service to the Ukiah Rod & Gun Club, and has shared his wildlife conservation knowledge with well over a thousand people in the local community.
Contract workers are on schedule of the construction work of the Rod Shippey Education and Lab Facility at the UC Hopland Research & Extension Center. The new building's roof is now weather tight, and much of the rough plumbing and electrical has been completed. Workers are pre-staining the exterior cedar siding prior to placement onto the exterior walls, which will overlay a complex metal sheathing and ventilation gap.
Sorry, but the camcorder for live daylight update photos went down during the last rainstorm and has yet to be repaired... therefore the camcorder views do not show right now on our live website. In the meantime, here is a photo of the promising progress as of today.
One of the earliest spring wildflowers to appear in the oak woodlands of Northern California is the Henderson's Shooting Star (Dodecatheon hendersonii), sometimes known as "mosquito bills". This pink/lavendar flower has swept back petals and forward-pointed stamens. The almost prostrate, elliptical green leaves are common place in the cool semi-shady slopes of oak woodlands... many times growing on slopes covered with mosses. These basal rosettes of leaves dry up by summer.
This plant is rather common here at the UC Hopland Research & Extension Center and is a great reminder that spring is on its way.