Feral pigs damage Sutter Buttes park
Wild pigs are destroying the environment at a state park in the Sutter Buttes, while neighboring landowners are complaining about a government fencing project they said could cause just as much harm.
A $70,000 fence is being planned around the 1,780-acre state park to keep feral pigs and wandering cows from damaging the environment and ruining historical landmarks.
About 770 pigs have already been trapped and removed since 2006, but the process has been expensive, said project manager Jim Dempsey, environmental scientist at the California Department of Parks and Recreation.
"Right now, unfortunately, there is a growing populaton of feral pigs," Dempsey said. "They root the environment, eat worms and tear up vegetation. They're called 'ecosystem engineers.'"
Several landowners with property surrounding the state park support getting rid of the animals, including the Shaeffers. The only difference is, the Shaeffers are against putting up a length line of fence because they said its construction could mess with historical landmarks scattered across the land, such as 100-year-old rock walls built by the Welsh.
"How environmentally friendly is this fence going to be?" said Tyrone Shaeffer, managing member of the Myers-Shaeffer Ranch, which borders the park.
According to Dempsey, the department is taking precautions that would prevent damage to the fragile environment, unlike the pigs that have already done extensive damage to the area.
The department also wanted to connect the fence to a gate on the Shaeffer property in order to prevent gaps, he said.
However, Shaeffer said the family denied the department's request because they were afraid the state would use it for public access into the park.
"You give them an inch, and they'll take a mile," Shaeffer said.
Denise Rist, park superintendent for the Sutter Buttes, said the state never intended to use the gate for public access into the park.
"That's simply not the case," she said.
However, the department owns no public access road into the park, Rist said. The only way the state can enter onto their own property is to travel on a private road that winds through about four other properties.
The state has tried buying property from the landowners, like the Shaeffers, but with no luck, Rist said. Until they do, or until some sort of legislation is passed, the park in the Sutter Buttes will remain landlocked.
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