California SHARE Program Hunts a Success

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An unusual partnership between the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) and private landowners has created new pig hunting opportunities in Yolo County. Through the Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Program, the first state-sponsored pig hunt on private lands was held in December.

The program drew tremendous interest, with more than 1,000 applications received for 64 hunting spots during the 10-day application period. Separate hunting opportunities were available for archers and apprentice hunters with a Junior Hunting License, and general hunts were open to anyone with a valid hunting license. The hunts took place northeast of Putah Creek near Lake Berryessa in an oakwood land setting that is home to a variety of game animals, including wild pigs.

"We saw 13 pigs, six does and one nice four-point buck," said archery hunter Albert Overhaltzer, of Orland. "In this area, it is 90 percent private property with no access, so the SHARE program really provides a rare opportunity for those of us who hunt."

Justin Boca, an 12-year-old apprentice hunter from Santee said, "My pig hunt was a great experience for me and my dad. I can’t believe I got a pig!"

Wild pigs are not appreciated by many landowners because of the hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage they cause to agricultural crops, native plants and property each year. The pigs themselves are not native to California – they are decedents of domestic and European wild pigs that were released or escaped into the wild over the past 150 years.

The SHARE program provides a natural bridge between landowners that seek solutions to wildlife-created issues and hunters seeking a place to hunt. The difficulty lies in getting private landowners to open their gates to any hunter because of fears of property damage or possible legal liabilities.

Wild Pig Program Coordinator Marc Kenyon says, "The SHARE Program is a vehicle DFG, hunters and landowners in California can use as one means to help alleviate pig damage on private lands. It also provides hunters with unique opportunity to hunt on privately owned lands."

The SHARE Program gives landowners a way to receive compensation and liability protection. One key objective of this hunt is to provide a wide range of hunting opportunity including archery-only hunts, apprentice hunts and any legal weapon hunts. SHARE hunts also provide a model for other landowners in California who want to both alleviate pig damage on their lands and generate income.

Funding for SHARE hunts is generated through the sale of pig tags. Each participating hunter must first pass a hunter safety course and purchase a state hunting license and pig tag.