Hordes of hungry pigs emerge at night to pillage California community’s parks, lawns

At first, Lafayette resident Matthew Lee was at a loss to explain the nightly damage to his lawn in California’s San Francisco Bay Area, KGO reported.

“We wake up in the morning and find these dug up divots in our backyard and it’s a mystery where they come from or where they go, but every morning we wake up and find these new holes,” Lee said, according to the station.

Then Lee spotted “three little pigs” — feral hogs — going to work on his lawn in search of grubs and other food, KGO reported. He’s not the only Bay Area resident plagued by pigs.

Packs of wild pigs have been tearing up parks and lawns in Lafayette, Dublin, Danville and other communities for the past several weeks, The East Bay Times reports.

“Each day that goes on, it’s just that (much) more damage,” said Christina Estrada, property manager for Danville Ranch, KRON reported. “It’s going to be money, money, money for us to put out.”

Packs of up to 35 feral hogs at a time have been spotted, according to the station.

Wild pigs have been part of California since the 1700s, when Spanish and Russian settlers introduced domesticated pigs, some of which escaped and went feral, says the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

In the 1920s, a Monterey landowner introduced European wild boars to the state, producing hybrids of feral pigs and wild boars. Feral hogs are now found in 56 of the state’s 58 counties, the agency says.

The omnivorous pigs feed on everything from grass and roots to grubs, snails and larvae, feeding mostly at night in dangerous or unfamiliar territory, according to the agency.

“I was shocked — first time for the pigs,” said Matthew Pease of Lafayette, who lost his front yard to the animals not long after they tore up the 52-acre Lafayette Community Park nearby, The East Bay Times reported.

“We deal with raccoons, wild pigs and deer in Lafayette. It’s part of living in the city,” Pease said, according to the publication.

Bill Keeling of Lafayette also lost most of his front lawn to the porcine marauders, KPIX reported.

“We’ll just take the lawn out and ... (put) in shrubbery and other plants,” Keeling said, according to the station. “I give up!”

In Dublin, city officials are using temporary fencing and traps, as well as camera monitoring, to try to stop the incursions, The East Bay Times reported.

“It’s the first time we’ve had feral pigs in Dublin,” said spokeswoman Shari Jackman, according to the publication.

Wild pigs are considered game animals in California and are covered by state hunting regulations, state fish and game officials say.

“Do not try to adopt them, they’re a wild animal,” said Timothy Gall, owner of Santa Clara’s Wild Pig Removal Inc., KGO reported. “They’re unpredictable and they can be dangerous at times.”

It’s not the first time wild pigs have plagued the Bay Area. Residents reported similar problems with packs of feral hogs in 2017, The San Francisco Chronicle reported.

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Don Sweeney has been a newspaper reporter and editor in California for more than 25 years. He has been a real-time reporter based at The Sacramento Bee since 2016.