Invasive Spotlight: Wild Pigs

Mar 1, 2017

Domestic pigs are a familiar farm animal, but have you heard about wild pigs? These animals are destructive pests with voracious appetites and eat a wide variety of plants and animals. It's estimated wild pigs cause $1.5 billion in economic damage to agriculture and the environment in California every year!

Where Did They Come From?

Domestic pigs were released in California in 1769 to be raised for consumption. Some of these pigs were not recaptured and became feral. In the 1920's, Russian wild boars were brought to California for sport hunting. Since both types of pigs belong to the same species, they interbred. Their descendants are called wild pigs.

Why are They a Problem?

Male wild pigs can weigh up to 200 pounds, and females up to 175 pounds. These large animals root through the soil to find food, disturbing native vegetation and digging up livestock forage. They compete for food with both wildlife and farm animals, as well as kill and eat wildlife and small farm animals. In urban areas, wild pigs cause extensive damage to lawns and gardens.

Wild pigs carry 5 major waterborne pathogens that can be infectious to humans, are hosts to 37 parasites that can affect multiple animal species, and can carry potentially devastating diseases to domestic livestock and wildlife. The 2006 outbreak of E. coli in California spinach fields is thought to have originated in wild pigs.

Management and Control

Since wild pigs pose a significant potential disease threat to humans, domestic livestock and native wildlife, an effective management program is necessary.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife considers wild pigs game animals. They can be managed through exclusion, trapping and/or shooting. To learn more about wild pigs and their management, read the Pest Note: Wild Pigs.