SAN DIEGO - A program designed to control the population of wild pigs causing environmental damage by scrounging for food in San Diego's backcountry was unanimously approved Wednesday by the county Board of Supervisors.
According to a staff report, the pigs -- numbering about 1,000 -- have caused significant damage in and around Lake Morena County Park by rooting for food and wallowing in bodies of water.
"They're a big problem in the (East County) region, and it's high time that we get this problem under control before they spread into other areas," said board Chairwoman Dianne Jacob. "Obviously, these feral pigs have already caused some serious damage at Lake Morena."
Local, state and federal officials, along with representatives of local Indian tribes, have been meeting about the feral pig problem for four years.
According to a staff report, the pigs have been spotted from Palomar Mountain to the north, throughout Cuyamaca State Park and down to Potrero, near the border with Mexico.
The action by the supervisors calls for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to implement a population control plan for the pigs, which reproduce at a rapid rate. The pigs were first spotted locally around 10 years ago.
The plan calls for setting up traps and shooting those animals that are caught, shooting them outside of traps when necessary, and firing at them from helicopters.
The state DFW will determine who will take part in the control program. County officials said hunters will not be allowed.
The board's action also amended the county code to allow the parks director the authority to have firearms used on invasive, nonnative animals that are harming the environment.
Supervisor Bill Horn said the new ordinance will not affect a landowner's right to use a firearm on his or her property.
According to county staff, feral pigs can carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans and farm animals, and could introduce pathogens to the water supply.
State and federal environmental reviews have been completed. No members of the public spoke for or against the plan.