Thousands of pigs to be fenced in, killed on Santa Cruz Island

The Associated Press
The Sacramento Bee

November 8, 2002

VENTURA, Calif.(AP) - An effort to eliminate up to 4,000 wild pigs on Santa Cruz Island has begun after four years of planning.

"I am just thrilled to have it underway," said Lynn Lozier, Santa Cruz Island project director for The Nature Conservancy. "This is the first tangible piece of restoring the island to its original condition. The presence of the pigs is central to all the problems we face on the island."

Officials began fencing the island last month. The project, which will cost $2.1 million, is expected to take five to seven years to complete.

Biologists said the pigs are preventing an ecological restoration effort on the island because they dig deep holes, strip bark from rare trees and uproot Indian artifacts. The pigs also attract non-native golden eagles, which dine on piglets and the endangered island fox.

Once the pigs are trapped inside the fences, they will be stalked and shot by contract hunters.

Santa Cruz is the largest of the eight Channel Islands and is owned by The Nature Conservancy and Channel Islands National Park.

The pigs were brought to the island in the 1850s by a farmer. Between 1990 and 1993, the park service killed about 1,100 wild pigs on nearby Santa Rosa Island. A similar anti-swine effort is underway on Santa Catalina Island, which put up 17 miles of pig-proof fencing in 1999.

But the program has drawn the ire of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, an organization that has suggested shooting the pigs with contraceptive darts to eradicate them over time.

"We are not arguing that they don't need to do something about the pigs, we are arguing with their methods," said Stephanie Boyles, a PETA wildlife biologist. "The animals are totally innocent here. There is no reason their numbers can't be brought down in a more humane and progressive way. The park service is rushing this."


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