SJ Officials Balk at Plan to Arm Pig-Trappers with Crossbows

Police and public works officials are pushing back on a proposal that would allow trappers to use archery to kill trap-savvy feral pigs that have been tearing through South San Jose neighborhoods.

Three weeks ago, council members Johnny Khamis and Sergio Jimenez asked their colleagues to consider the plan, which aims to deal with “trap-wise” wild hogs.

In 2013, the city passed a law spearheaded by Khamis and ex-Councilman Pete Constant that authorized trappers licensed through the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to catch and kill pigs.

But since then, the aggressive, tough-to-relocate feral beasts have learned how to evade capture, posing a problem for South San Jose property owners who have spent thousands of dollars trying to fix the havoc wreaked on their lawns.

At the Oct. 6 council meeting, city officials said they had concerns that they needed to work out before a new law could be put in place. Those concerns included the vetting process for trappers, restrictions in the areas where trappers would be deployed and what would happen in the event a trapper misses and accidentally shoots a human.

In an Oct. 22 memo released ahead of Tuesday’s council meeting, San Jose Public Works Director Matt Cano and SJPD Assistant Chief Dave Knopf urge the council do away with the proposal altogether.

“In general, the use of bow and arrow for depredation purposes is generally discouraged by the CDFW [California Department of Fish and Wildlife] unless there is a valid safety reason and no other means are available,” Cano and Knopf wrote. “The goal of any depredation is to humanely dispatch an animal in a quick manner to reduce suffering and to prevent an animal from escaping. CDFW also encourages property owners to make fencing improvements and implementing hazing devices or techniques to discourage animals from entering and staying on a property.”

Cano and Knopf said the San Jose Police Department and the Public Works Animal Services Division met with the CDFW to discuss safety concerns. In the end, they concluded they couldn’t allow crossbows to be used for a few specific reasons.

According to California Fish and Game section 3004, it’s against the law to hunt animals within 150 yards of a home without the consent of the resident.

The Coyote Creek Golf Course, one of the areas where city officials were considering deploying crossbow-armed trappers, isn’t within 150 yards of anyone’s home, however, it is less than 150 yards from Highway 101.

Cano and Knopf wrote that city officials were also concerned that crossbows would “not provide an immediate and quick method to incapacitate a wild pig, which could result in a wild pig fleeing an area wounded and causing a public safety issue.”

If the council decides to move forward with the law, Cano and Knopf said there are a few changes they’d like to make.

First, a licensed trapper must give SJPD, the Department of Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services’ Park Ranger Unit, the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office, California Highway Patrol and California Department of Fish and Wildlife a 24 hours notice prior to any depredation plans.

The notice would include the permit number, the location where the trapper plans to be and the names of all trappers who will use a crossbow or bow and arrow.

The city would also ban the use of crossbows within 150 yards of public streets, highways or homes and trappers must wear the appropriate markings on their clothing.

The City Council convenes virtually at 1:30pm Tuesday. Click here to read the entire agenda, here to join the Zoom meeting and here to tune in on YouTube. 

Grace Hase is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @grace_hase. Or, click here to sign up for text updates about what she’s working on.

9 Comments

  1. So, Nero continues to serenade us with his fiddle while Rome burns.

    Business as usual in SCC.

  2. I made this suggestion to Khamis on his Facebook on an article he posted about the east foothills. Work with the county park rangers at Grant Ranch, and the UC system at Blue Oak reserve to cull pig numbers there. We’ve had a drought year, and the smoke has affected their food supply so they’re coming down from the hills to forage.

    In Khamis’s neighborhood he might want to look at talking to the county about Calero, and Santa Theresa park. There’s also Sierra Azul.

    Finally it might help if they provide food for the pigs. We used to dumpster dive for produce behind grocery stores for our pigs, the wild pigs around here are not native, they’re nothing more than domesticated pigs that got out and became feral after several generations. Work with local supermarkets to put aside spoiled produce.

    Once the pigs realize there’s an easier source of food they’ll stop coming into town.

  3. Crossbones? Seriously? A “stuck” pig WILL run and squeal bloody murder for a couple hundred yards, no matter what type of broadhead is used. Get real, have the state issue suppressor equipped high power rifles to these specially selected “trappers”. It should take no more than 6 thus equipped marksmen/women to quickly rid the entire city of SJ of the wild hog problem. There are SIMPLE solutions….can nobody in the city council, game and fish, or SJPD THINK???

  4. Worthless city government keeps looking for ‘why not’ as opposed to ‘this is the solution’. And we pay their salaries with our tax money ???

  5. Robert Cortese-

    Your solution to stop pig overpopulation is to feed them?

    Am I getting that straight?

    You do realize that this will put a further strain on the area’s natural ability to feed these things and next year we will see many more swine coming down into our neighborhoods.

  6. People hunt in urban areas on the East Coast with crossbows/archery/shotguns and it works out fine.
    Here’s a story from a trendy publication in Pittsburgh:
    https://pittsburghquarterly.com/articles/the-urban-deerhunter/
    “In 2018, the game commission recorded just 27 “hunting-related shooting incidents” (HRSIs) statewide and across all types of hunting, including one fatality—an incident rate of just over three per 100,000 hunters. Most resulted in a self-inflicted injury. Incidents have been declining for several decades.”

    I suspect that there would be far fewer than 100,000 hunters in the San Jose area, so it seems likely there would be zero to one accidents on a yearly basis, with fatalities extremely unlikely. In otherwords, driving your car is more dangerous.

    In some countries in Northern Europe there is urban hunting as well, and people tend to use (or are required to use) sound suppressors. This is out of respect for neighbors, the shooter’s own hearing, and the hearing of any dogs used in the pursuit of the quary.

    People hunt feral pigs at night with suppressors and thermal scopes in states like Arkansas as well. Suppressors are legal in most states as long as the owner pays a $200 federal tax and gets a federal background check. However, California’s legislature in it’s infinite wisdom bans the ownership of sound suppressors by anyone except law enforcement, the military, and Hollywood film production houses. Can’t interfere with the circuses, oh no!

    Here’s another thing that folks upset about hunting feral pigs don’t understand — the more feral pigs they have loose in their neighborhood, the more likely it is that they will soon have mountain lions too. This is because mountain lions will follow a food source — the feral pigs.

    As Californians have committed to rewilding the state and reintroducing predators like wolves (already in far Northern CA) while protecting mountain lion populations, we are going to see more and more encounters between large predators and people. There is talk about reintroducing grizzlies as well. I think it’s great, personally, since it’s my understanding that predator reintroduction in other regions has led to a greater diversity of all kinds of other wildlife and plants. I’m not sure that a lot of people realize the risks though. There’s a reason that the Anglo and Spanish settlers people wiped these predators out the first time around, which is that they can be lethal. Just imagine going to an outhouse at 9 pm when there were wolves, grizzlies and mountain lions out and about, with your only light source a kerosene lantern. Nowadays we have flashlights and electric lights etc, but a strong increase in large predators will certainly make taking out the evening trash in Evergreen or Almaden to be a different sort of experience than it is presently. It will also make hiking in the foothills potentially much more exciting!

    It would seem prudent, therefore to carefully cull prey species such that we don’t attract large numbers of predators, and then also to allow people the tools to protect themselves if they so choose. I understand that in certain moral/ethical/religious systems, letting someone or something kill you is considered preferable and superior to ever doing violence with one’s own hands.

    That’s a fine choice for a person to make for themselves, but I believe that it is fundamentally immoral to impose that choice on others.

  7. >Robert Cortese-
    >Your solution to stop pig overpopulation is to feed them?

    Story time…As told by my father.

    Up at the family ranch on Mount Hamilton, my father used to feed the deer corn. Every day he’d go there, until it got to the point where the deer would listen to the sound of his truck and come running.

    His uncle Vince Jr. was an avid hunter, loved hunting deer to the point where if he saw a buck he would start shaking and breaking out in sweats. He was known for blasting a buck from inside his truck.

    Vince got wise to my fathers attempt to become a Disney Princess and setup a blind in a tree. He drove up to the ranch, laid out the corn. The deer at this point had grown used to the presence of people. After the deer came around, he blasted them one by one, as the ranch became “Deershwitz”

    Point being yes we should feed them where it would be more productive to do something with them, far in the hills somewhere. Also grocery store spoiled fruit and veggies is an unlimited resource.

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