BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 2268
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          Date of Hearing:   April 29, 2014

                   ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON WATER, PARKS AND WILDLIFE
                                Anthony Rendon, Chair
                    AB 2268 (Bigelow) - As Amended:  April 7, 2014
          
          SUBJECT  :   Department of Fish and Wildlife; Wild Pigs

           SUMMARY  :   Requires the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) to  
          conduct a study on the wild pig population in California that  
          includes recommendations on solutions to mitigate the wild pig  
          population.  

           EXISTING LAW  :

          1)Classifies wild pigs as a game mammal and requires a hunting  
            license and wild pig tags or a depredation permit to take a  
            wild pig.

          2)Authorizes land owners whose property is being damaged or  
            destroyed by wild pigs to apply to the DFW for a permit to  
            kill the animals.  Requires DFW to provide an applicant for a  
            depredation permit to take wild pigs with written information  
            on the options for wild pig control, which include depredation  
            permits, allowing periodic access to the land by licensed  
            hunters, and holding special hunts.

          3)Allows any wild pig that is encountered while in the act of  
            inflicting injury to, molesting, pursuing, worrying or killing  
            livestock, or damaging or destroying property to be taken  
            immediately by the owner or governmental official.

          4)Requires DFW to prepare a plan for the management of wild  
            pigs, including determining the status and trend of wild pig  
            populations and management units.

           FISCAL EFFECT :   Unknown

           COMMENTS  :   The author has introduced this bill to address  
          multiple problems caused by wild pig populations in California  
          that cause damage to agricultural and conservation lands.  The  
          author asserts that wild pigs are the most destructive invasive  
          species in the state, causing hundreds of millions of dollars of  
          damage each year to natural ecosystems on public, private and  
          agricultural lands.  This bill would require the DFW to conduct  








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          a study on the wild pig population and make recommendations on  
          solutions to mitigate the problems caused by their  
          overpopulation.  The author also asserts that the current  
          process for landowners to obtain the applicable permits needed  
          to take wild pigs is cumbersome and difficult.

          In addition to agricultural and natural resource damage  
          concerns, some urban residential areas have experienced problems  
          recently with wild pigs, which may be in part attributable to  
          the current drought.  A recent story on ABC News noted that wild  
          pigs in the San Jose area had come into residential  
          neighborhoods there damaging property and threatening public  
          safety.  The article indicated that the drought may be a factor  
          leading the pigs to move from the hills closer to residential  
          areas. 

          DFW's website indicates that Pigs (Sus scrofa) are native to  
          Eurasia and northern Africa. In the early 1700's Spanish and  
          Russian settlers introduced domestic pigs to California as  
          livestock and many became feral. In the 1920's a Monterey County  
          landowner introduced the European wild boar, a wild subspecies  
          of Sus scrofa into California, which bred with the domestic  
          pigs. The result of these introductions is a wild boar/feral  
          domestic pig hybrid.  Until the mid-1950's, wild pigs were  
          unclassified under state law and could be killed with no  
          restrictions. In 1957, wild pigs were designated a game mammal  
          by the State Legislature. The Fish and Game Commission  
          established hunting seasons, bag and possession limits, method  
          of take and the conditions for using dogs. In 1992 Fish and  
          Wildlife Code Sections 4650 through 4657 were added requiring  
          hunters to possess wild pig license tags while hunting pigs.   
          Wild pigs currently exist in 56 of the state's 58 counties and  
          can be found in a variety of habitats ranging from woodland,  
          chaparral, meadow and grasslands. Wild pigs are omnivorous,  
          consuming both plant and animal matter. In general, wild pigs  
          feed on grasses and forbs in the spring, mast and fruits in the  
          summer and fall, and roots, tubers and invertebrates throughout  
          the year.

          The DFW's website also includes the following: "The relationship  
          between California residents and wild pigs could be described as  
          "love/hate." That is, hunters love them while everyone else  
          seems to hate them. Classified as a game mammal in California,  
          wild pigs provide year-round hunting opportunity."  









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          The physical characteristics of a California wild pig vary  
          significantly throughout the state. Some exhibit the long hair  
          and snouts, small erect ears and angular shaped bodies of their  
          wild boar ancestors, while others have short hair, long floppy  
          ears, and a barrel-shaped body. Colors range from solid black to  
          red, striped, grizzled or spotted.

          The DFW website provides the following advice on wild pigs.  
          "Even if you don't see wild pigs, evidence of their presence is  
          obvious-it could be as benign as a few pig tracks, or an entire  
          hillside that looks like it's been worked over with a  
          rototiller. Wild pigs use their snouts to root up the ground in  
          search of food, including roots, fungus, and other items. As  
          omnivores, they also consume garden landscape plants and  
          agricultural crops."  

          There are laws in California that provide landowners with a  
          variety of options for addressing wild pig-related property  
          damage.  The DFW recommends the following options:

             1.   Landowners can allow hunters on their property to take  
               wild pigs. The landowner sets the rules regarding who  
               hunts, when, and for how long. It's the hunter's  
               responsibility to make sure he/she has the required license  
               and tags. 

             2.   Landowners can purchase a hunting license and wild pig  
               tags, and go hunting on their property. 

             3.   Landowners can allow DFW to conduct a hunt on their  
               property. There is no charge, and DFW may even make  
               improvements to the land to conduct the hunt-for example,  
               graveling roads, repairing gates and mending fences. 

             4.   Landowners can request a depredation permit from DFG  
               that will allow them to hunt for pigs on their property any  
               time during the day or night. No hunting license is  
               required. 

             5.   Landowners can immediately kill pigs that are  
               encountered on their property while conducting routine  
               activities. A hunting license is required but no additional  
               tags are needed if the person taking the pig is the  
               landowner, an agent of the landowner or an employee of the  
               landowner.  DFG must be notified within 24 hours of the  








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               killing of the pig.

           Potential Future Amendments  :  Supporters indicate this bill is a  
          "work in progress" and future substantive amendments may be  
          contemplated.  The author has been working with stakeholders to  
          see if agreement can be reached on amendments that would lift  
          the restrictions on taking of wild pigs. The author's office has  
          committed to bring this bill back to this committee for a  
          hearing if substantive amendments are later adopted.

          Changes being considered by the author but not before the  
          committee at this time include  declassifying wild pigs as game  
          animals and allowing wild pigs to be taken at any time with a  
          hunting license and wild pig validation. A percentage of funds  
          from the sale of wild pigs would be used to remediate wild lands  
          damaged by pigs.  Landowners whose land is being damaged by wild  
          pigs would not be required to have a hunting license or  
          depredation permit to take wild pigs on their land, except that  
          wild pigs would not be allowed to be taken at night without a  
          hunting license and prior notice to the DFW.  The Humane Society  
          has expressed concerns with some of these proposed changes and  
          urges that any changes to current law should specify allowable  
          methods of take and prohibit inhumane methods, prohibit  
          activities that undermine the goal of reducing the wild pig  
          population such as breeding and importation, direct funds from  
          wild pig validations to pig related purposes, conform to current  
          law regarding non-lead ammunition and removal of carcasses, and  
          address public safety concerns with night hunting.

           Support Arguments  :  The California Farm Bureau supports this  
          bill and indicates that wild pigs cause significant damage to  
          California's farms, ranches, and native habitats and that action  
          is needed to reduce their population.  They cite to surveys  
          estimating that wild pigs cause over $1 million in damages each  
          year to agricultural crops, fencing, roads and trails.  They  
          also assert that the 2006 outbreak of E. coli in spinach was  
          attributed to wild pigs.

           Note  :  A report by the Centers for Disease Control and a joint  
          report by the California Department of Health Services and the  
          U.S. Food and Drug Administration actually concluded the  
          probable cause of the outbreak was Paicines Ranch, an Angus  
          cattle ranch that had leased land to spinach grower Mission  
          Organics.  The reports found 26 samples of E. coli  
          indistinguishable from the outbreak strain in water and cattle  








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          manure on the San Benito County ranch, some within a mile from  
          the tainted spinach fields.  Although officials could not  
          definitively say how the spinach became contaminated, both  
          reports named the presence of wild pigs on the ranch and the  
          proximity of surface waterways to irrigation wells as "potential  
          environmental risk factors."  The reports also noted that flaws  
          in the spinach producer's transportation and processing systems  
          could have further spread contamination.  Paicines Ranch is not  
          under investigation for its alleged role in the outbreak.     

           REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  :   

           Support  
          California Farm Bureau

           Opposition  
          None on file.
           
          Analysis Prepared by  :    Diane Colborn / W., P. & W. / (916)  
          319-2096