One city councilmen proposing the change in the law says some of his constituents say they are afraid to take their kids out on Halloween. The pigs can get up to 200 or 300 pounds and they can carry a variety of diseases. If the law is changed, shooting a pig in San Jose would still require a state permit allowing that only when the animal is a threat to life or property.
The feral pigs are a particular problem at the Almaden Country Club. In addition to tearing up homeowners' lawns, they've done $10,000 in damage to the golf and country club. And, San Jose City Councilman Johnny Khamis says the non-native pigs can also be a threat to people. He wants to have them trapped, shot, and killed within city limits.
Right now, San Jose law prohibits the discharge of a firearm within city limits except by the police or in self-defense. On Tuesday, Khamis and Councilman Pete Constant asked for an urgency ordinance changing that, allowing for the discharge of a weapon by a licensed trapper, only for the purpose of killing the feral pigs. "The memo is allowing us to actually use the gun in the city limits," Khamis said.
Khamis says the state Fish and Wildlife biologist thinks trapping and shooting them is more practical and humane than euthanizing with a chemical process similar to what's used in state executions. And transporting them outside the city would mean possibly releasing the invasive species into another habitat if they escape.
One trapper told ABC7 News that once the pig is in the trap, he shoots at close range with a BB-type gun. Khamis emphasizes only licensed trappers would be allowed to shoot. "We're not asking people to go hunt them or anything," he told ABC7 News.
Brooke Barimko has watched her husband chase the pigs off their front lawn. She's not afraid for her safety or for the safety of her boys, 9 and 4-years-old, and she thinks the pigs should be left alone. "I still don't feel like they need to be put down in any way," she said.
The city council is expected to vote next week.