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Saturday, January 22, 2022

Wild, hungry pigs still rampage around the Santa Ana River

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One October afternoon, Nicole Gardner was walking her dog in the Corona area when she had a shocking encounter – with a feral pig.

“He had tusks. He growled and moved towards us,” said the 18-year-old. “My dog ​​just started barking at him. I was very scared. They were about the same size.”

Gardner and her mom Judy said the pigs have visited their northern Corona area near the Santa Ana River at least three times since October. They roam the streets and dig for food on front lawns, as seen in family footage.

“If you drive through our streets, you see all these bumpy yards,” said Judy Gardner, who described her front lawn as “a mystery.”

“We just stopped fixing ours,” she said. “We’re trying to ignore it, but it’s a really terrible and unsafe situation.”

Wild pigs have lived in parts of Riverside County for decades, primarily around the Santa Ana River, Prado Reservoir, and surrounding areas including Corona, Norco, Jurupa Valley, and Riverside. One example of their rampage was when, in 2016, piglets tore up the turf in Riverside’s Fairmount Park. And at the beginning of January they damaged the grass near the lodges in the Jurupa Ranch Regional Park in the Jurupa Valley, near the river, representatives of the Riverside County Regional Park and the District of Outer Space.

“It looks like someone has been using a cultivator on the lawn as they use their tusks to dig up their lunch,” said Jack Altevers, park ranger’s ranger.

The pigs regularly walk around the park, he says, starting and ending their day at the bottom of the river.

Wild pigs have been recorded in the Santa Ana River since the 1970s, says Chanel Davis, a biologist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Most of them are the descendants of domestic pigs that escaped or were released from old farms along the river corridor and became feral, Davis said. Some have crossbred with European wild boars, creating a wild boar-wild domestic pig hybrid that has evolved over time.

Omnivorous creatures are mainly found in grasslands, swamps and forests near bodies of water where the soil is fertile. They feed on roots, larvae and invertebrates such as earthworms and centipedes all year round. They mainly hunt for food from evening to early morning.

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Although the Gardners have not seen pigs in their area in weeks, the family expects things to change as the summer progresses. They also spotted animals roaming the hills and causing damage to a field near Stagecoach Park in Corona, where recent winter rains have made the land fertile.

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