East County Troubled by Feral Pig Population

By Steven Luke
|  Wednesday, Oct 3, 2012  |  Updated 8:25 AM PDT
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The Vista Irrigation District is seeing an increase of invasive feral pigs on their land, and is looking into deploying a trap that's been successful in the past to eradicate them. NBC 7 reporter Steven Luke has an exclusive look into the problem and how officials are trying to fix it.

The Vista Irrigation District is seeing an increase of invasive feral pigs on their land, and is looking into deploying a trap that's been successful in the past to eradicate them. NBC 7 reporter Steven Luke has an exclusive look into the problem and how officials are trying to fix it.

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In San Diego, it's not often that a story about wild animal trapping makes the news -- but rural, wild pigs are increasingly being called a nuisance.

The non native feral pigs were released several years back by humans and now there's concern about their impact on everything from the ecosystem, to agriculture, to human health.

In the Warner Valley, between Warner Springs and Palomar Mountain, a successful trapping process may be the answer to the problematic pig population.

The land is owned by the Vista Irrigation District and their primary job is producing clean drinking water. They have become unlikely experts at pig trapping and with this coral had the most successful capture the county has ever seen.

Don Smith with the Vista Irrigation district showed us the pig pen in the middle of the 43-thousand acres of land they own, where last spring, they captured all 30 in their group.

With surveillance motion cameras and a one way trap door - the pigs went in for the bait, but couldn't get out.

It may sound like an easy fix, but so far the wild pigs have been hard to find and capture across the county.

Experts estimate their population at more than a thousand when there were just a few hundred a few years back.

The Vista Irrigation District is just one small player on a bigger team of public and private entities trying to get rid of this swine problem that isn't going away on its own.

Just In the past few weeks, Smith says they have noticed more pigs in the area.

"They're coming down onto the ranch and were starting to see some signs," Smith said. "So we're in the same position we were in 2010 where we're starting to see pig signs again."

He expects the population to double in the next year or two, and then they'll have to take measures to eradicate them.

In the meantime, the Cleveland National Forest is heading up a more comprehensive plan to eradicate the feral pigs. They say if things go as planned and funding is available, they could start the work by next spring.


 

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