Feral Pig Monitoring in San Diego County

Feral pig monitoring program

The goal of IEMM’s feral pig monitoring program is to inform the strategy and actions of a county-wide cooperative eradication effort of wild pigs.

Feral pigs arrive in San Diego County

Until 2006, San Diego County remained one of two counties in California that did not have a resident population of non-native wild pigs (Sus scrofa).

In 2005, there was a suspected release of pigs in San Diego, and between 2006 and 2008, infrequent reports of feral pigs in the vicinity of the San Diego River began increasing. This suggested that the pigs had become established in the watershed.

By 2014, the original population expanded and there were additional suspected releases. Across eastern San Diego County, the population grew to an estimated 200 – 500 pigs.

Habitat and biodiversity impacts of feral pigs

San Diego County is home to large tracts of protected lands with native habitats and rich biodiversity. A stable and self-perpetuating pig population posed a significant threat to these habitats and species.

The Feral Pig Working Group

To respond to this growing threat in San Diego County, public land management agencies began working together. The Feral Pig Working Group was created, including 11 state, local, federal, and tribal government agencies.

A Working Group consensus established that a county-wide project should be attempted to eliminate habitat degradation caused by feral pigs.

First, we have improved our monitoring and tracking of pig movements. This will allow us to better inform actions to reduce and eliminate feral pigs.

In addition, the Working Group determined that an additional, independent monitoring effort to complement the pig removal would increase the likelihood of successful eradication. This is due to the challenges of detection and tracking over a large area of contiguous habitat once population numbers are substantially reduced. SDSU leads this monitoring program, which includes:

  • Establishment of a grid-based monitoring strategy
  • Placement and maintenance of permanent camera monitoring stations
  • Gathering track and sign data in the field and from project partners
  • Collection of negative survey results
  • Maintenance of a master database of all pig-related data
  • Data analysis and management recommendations

Lead Scientist: Megan Jennings

Project partners & intergovernmental feral pig group member agencies