Feral Pig monitoring in San diego county
Lead Scientist: Megan Jennings
Until 2006, San Diego County remained one of two counties in California that did not have a resident population of non-native wild pigs (Sus scrofa). In 2005, there was a suspected release of pigs in San Diego, and between 2006 and 2008, infrequent reports of feral pigs in the vicinity of the San Diego River began increasing, suggesting a number of pigs had become established in the watershed. Between 2008 and 2014, expansion of the original population and additional suspected releases led to a population that ranged across eastern San Diego County and was estimated at 200 - 500 pigs. San Diego County is home to large tracts of protected lands with native habitats and rich biodiversity. A stable and self-perpetuating pig population posed a significant threat to these habitats and species.
To respond to the growing threat of established feral pig populations in San Diego County, affected public land management agencies began working together to address San Diego’s pig problem in a cooperative “all-lands” approach by forming a Feral Pig Intergovernmental Group. The group is made up of 11 state, local, federal, and tribal government agencies that manage lands and water in San Diego County. The feral pig removal effort was established based on consensus among the Feral Pig Intergovernmental Working Group that the pigs in San Diego County were an isolated and relatively new population, and therefore, a county-wide project should be attempted to eliminate habitat degradation caused by feral pigs.
It is hypothesized that the better our monitoring and tracking of pig movement is during this effort, the more informed our actions to reduce and eliminate feral pigs will be and our chances at success will be greater. In addition, the Working Group determined that an independent monitoring effort to complement the removal would increase the likelihood of successful eradication. The goal of the monitoring is to inform the strategy and actions of the eradication effort, particularly given the challenges of detection and tracking over a large area of contiguous habitat once population numbers are substantially reduced. SDSU leads this monitoring program including:
- Establishment of a grid-based monitoring strategy
- Placement and maintenance of permanent camera monitoring stations
- Gathering track and sign data in the field and from project partners
- Collection of negative survey results
- Maintenance of a master database of all pig-related data
- Data analysis and management recommendations