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Photo by Ed Gordon/Tehachapi News

Photo of wild pig courtesy of California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife

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Stallion Springs Police Chief Brad Burris and homeowner Peter Goelz inspect the damage done to flower beds by the wild pigs. Wild pigs in rural areas of California, including the Tehachapi Mountains, are a hybrid of introduced species of wild boar and domestic pigs.

Residents of the Stallion Springs and Bear Valley Springs areas are experiencing property damage caused by wild pigs.

Peter Goelz reported seeing as many as 17 pigs in the gully behind his home on Borrel Court in Stallion Springs. The pigs have dug up yards and gardens on Mustang Drive, Horsethief Drive, Dapple Gray Court, Roan Court and other streets in the area.

Bear Valley police have even received reports of the pigs posing traffic hazards in the Deertrail Drive and Paramount Drive areas.

Some think the ongoing drought may be bringing the animals into residential areas.

"I've been watering the past three or four days, so it's nice and wet," Goelz said recently. "They come up here and dig in the mud."

"They came right up the ravine in back and tore everything up," his wife, Mardene, said. "They haven't been up here for a couple of years. This is the worst I've seen it, and we've lived here 20 years. Our daughter was up here on Saturday and there was one tearing up my garden. It scared her."

Stallion Springs Police Chief Brad Burris, on his patrol run, stopped by to check out the damage.

"We had a real bad problem five or six years ago, then it quieted down," he said. "They have come in from time to time since, but now they're back in force."

Wild pigs are nocturnal omnivores and eat a wide variety of foods or anything they come across, including nesting birds, roots, tubers, trash, insects and small reptiles. They love acorns and domestic agricultural crops such as corn, rice, wheat and potatoes.

And pigs love our lawns. They dig and root in yards and gardens searching for roots, insects, grubs and worms.

Pigs can be dangerous, especially when they have a litter of piglets.

So what is a property owner with a pig problem to do?

Though Fish and Wildlife requires licensed hunters to possess tags to hunt pigs for sport, the rules are different if the animals become a nuisance.

Regulations state: "When damaging or destroying, or threatening to immediately damage or destroy land or property; landowner, agent or employee 'encounters' damage or threat, may take (kill) immediately. No hunting license or pig tags are required and it is OK to take at anytime including at night using artifical light."

At other times, a depredation permit is required. Traps may also be used under certain circumstances.

Those who kill pigs must report the action by the next working day to the nearest DFW regional office. Carcasses may be possessed or transferred under most circumstances but are usually not be left in the field unless otherwise directed by DFW. Non-lead ammunition must be used within the range of the endangered California condor, which includes the Tehachapi Mountains.

If killing animals is not your cup of tea, there are some ideas for discouraging the pigs' encroachment:

Keep all pet food indoors. Pigs have an acute sense of smell and are attracted by the scent of any kind of food.

Surround your garden with fine plastic mesh. Lay it low on the ground so that it is two to four inches above the soil. Plants will grow through the mesh, but it works as a barrier. Pigs will not enter an area where their feet may become entangled.

Eliminate grubs from your lawn by applying beneficial nematodes or soapy water. The soapy water will not harm the soil. Apply it when the sun is high and earthworms are deep in the ground.

"We have heard that shredded Irish Spring soap bars work well," Burris said.

Burrs also suggests deploying motion-detection sprinklers or lighting where the pigs have been active. The sprinklers run on batteries with a light beam that when broken will emit strong and sudden burst of water.