Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Feral Pig Problem

If you are a regular Hiker around the Diablo Foothills then you may already be aware of the presence of this destructive creature on our trails ... I am talking about the Feral Pig or Wild Boar if you will...Feral pigs are large omnivorous mammals with powerful bodies and coarse hairy coats. Their thick necks, wedge-shaped heads and mobile snouts are used in feeding to uproot the ground and find prey or plant material...Wild, or feral pigs have drifted into the bay area, particularly in the south, and are posing a threat to wildlife and plants. Some of these animals are descendants of escaped livestock, while others are derived from breeds introduced to some ill-founded hunting preserves in the 1800s. Pigs of this ilk have no real predators (except for the automobile), and so populations can increase rapidly... Pigs love acorns, and it's possible our oak tree forests will begin to shrink as the pigs eat the fallen acorns, preventing new growth. They also damage root systems when they dig around trees... Another problem is their aggressive disposition and fearsome size... Pigs do sometimes charge humans, and have been even known to attack and kill small deer... They range in size from about 75 pounds to over 400 pounds... Mount Tamalpais solved their (previous) pig problem by installing miles of fencing (you can see some of it along the Ridge Trail north of Fairfax-Bolinas Road) and with aggressive hunting.  In the south bay management agencies are trying to come up with a way to manage this problem, but in the meantime be on guard for the pig invasion...Feral pigs are particularly destructive to the natural environment because they engage in ‘rooting’ behaviour to locate food. This rooting disrupts the seed bank, disturbs surface vegetation, alters soil composition, increases the growth of weeds, disperses the seeds of exotic plants, and destroys habitat utilised by native species. In addition, pigs are omnivorous, meaning that they eat a wide and varied diet including small animals and invertebrates. This reduces the availability of food for native species. Their rooting behaviour also increases soil erosion and increases siltation of rivers. Overseas, pigs have also been known to kill several species of tree ferns and epiphytes by felling or de-barking them...   In addition, feral pigs are capable of transmitting diseases including brucellosis,    psuedorabies,    leptospirosis,   foot-and-mouth disease   and Japanese encephalitis and the fungus Phytophthora cinnamomi...This information comes from bahiker.com as well as Northern Territory Government ...

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