Trap-savvy feral hogs might have their run of San Jose’s lawns for just a bit longer.
Since the city started addressing its wild pig problem back in 2013, the couple-hundred-pound beasts have grown smart enough to avoid traps, prompting councilmen Johnny Khamis and Sergio Jimenez to craft a proposal that would allow licensed trappers to use archery to kill the pigs. But city officials had a few concerns, which held up the idea.
They said they worry about the vetting process for trappers, restrictions for areas where trappers would be deployed and what would happen if a trapper misses the pig and shoots someone else with a bow and arrow.
During Tuesday’s San Jose City Council meeting, the council voted unanimously to allow city officials to work out some of the kinks before letting trappers resort to archery.
But not everyone was thrilled with the decision.
“I was shocked and dismayed when I saw this proposal,” resident Peter Didonato told the council. “I would simply ask each and every one of you to imagine what it feels like to be shot with an arrow. It is a cruel, torturous death.”
Khamis reminded residents that “this isn’t Wilbur the pig,” referring to the lovable hog in the children’s classic “Charlotte’s Web.” Feral pigs—unlike their domesticated counterparts—are aggressive and can’t be relocated.
“I don’t want to have people having visions of people running around the city shooting bows and arrows,” Khamis said. “This is not what we intended from this memo. We’re having some significant problems with property damages. These are feral pigs, they’re not indigenous and they last time we went around the Sierra Club actually supported this effort to depredation.”
San Jose Acting Assistant Police Chief Dave Tindall said the department prefers using traps over archery—especially as pigs start moving from more rural to residential areas.
“The public safety aspect of it with an arrow that misses its target, where does it go?” he said. “I know there’s a misconception out there that the arrows will only travel so far but many of them will travel just as far as a round from a rifle. ... So that is a consideration.”
Timothy Gall—a law enforcement professional with 20 years of experience, including 15 with the San Jose PD—is one of a handful of licensed trappers in the state. Over the years, Gall said he’s trapped and killed around 100 feral pigs in San Jose.
He told the council that in order to become a certified trapper, you have to pass a written exam. Then it’s up to the property owner to obtain a depredation permit from the state’s department of fish and wildlife before any trapping can begin.
“You always have to have safety as the primary concern,” Gall explained. “If a pig is doing damage, I understand that’s what the client is doing to remove the pig, but it’s not worth getting anyone hurt by taking a moderate shot. If I’m not 100 percent sure I’m going to be able to make the shot accurate and euthanize the animal as quick as possible.”