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.