Pigs roaming Lake Kaweah bottomland


With a minimum pool in the Lake Kaweah basin and only a ribbon of water in the river channel, a herd of wild pigs has been roaming over a large area and frequently sighted in the vicinity of the Slick Rock Recreation area by bikers, hikers, and runners. At least one person, who was walking a dog, has had an encounter with a pig that got a little too close for comfort.

Phil Deffenbaugh, general manager with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Lake Kaweah, said he and his park staff are keeping a watchful eye on the herd that numbers at least 14.

“There are a couple of very large pigs in that herd with tusks,” Phil said. “If they start to get more aggressive then we would ask the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to thin the herd. There are no piglets right now so that’s a good sign.”

The pigs, like most other critters, can become more aggressive when they are protecting their young. Phil said his staff received a report last week of a mountain lion eating a pig.

Mountain lion tracks have been seen recently on the Lake Kaweah trails. With limited places to access water, in addition to the big cats, bear, deer, pigs, and other species of local wildlife must frequent areas around the lake, the river, or one of only a handful of springs in the Kaweah drainage that remain wet.

Pigs (Sus scrofa) are native to Eurasia and northern Africa. In the early 1700s, Spanish and Russian settlers introduced domestic pigs to California as livestock and many became feral. In the 1920s, a Monterey County landowner introduced the European wild boar, a wild subspecies of Sus scrofa into California, which bred with the domestic pigs. The result of these introductions is a wild boar/feral domestic pig hybrid.

Wild pigs currently exist in 56 of the state’s 58 counties and can be found in a variety of habitats ranging from woodland, chaparral, meadow, and grasslands. Wild pigs are omnivorous, consuming both plant and animal matter. In general, wild pigs feed on grasses, flowers, and herbs in the spring; mast and fruits in the summer and fall; and roots, tubers, and invertebrates throughout the year.

Until 1957, pigs could be killed with no restrictions. In 1957, wild pigs were designated a game mammal by the State Legislature. As of 1992, hunters have been required to possess wild pig license tags while hunting pigs.

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