This is from the Ranger who is in charge of the pig hunt around the lake. If you hunt there and would like to keep Bow hunting there read this and email the Ranger. Joel.D.Miller@spd02.usace.army .mil
The future of bow hunting at Lake Sonoma is up for debate. Below are a set of e-mails that my manager and I have been exchanging over the past few days. As you know, I have been strongly hinting that future hunts may be eliminated due to the problems that we have had. This forum notification has been done so that there are no surprises if that turns out to be the case. However, it looks like we may be holding some kind public forum to discuss this. If you are interested in commenting, but will be unable to appear at a scheduled forum, please leave a comment here as a public record that I can take to the meeting. Also, please note that apparently all of the hunting data that I have been storing over that past three years is now missing, so if you hunted our property and would like to share your previous thoughts, this is the time and place to do it.
(e-mail from Park Manager to ranger staff below)
Joel presents some excellent information and a good synopsis and list of arguments. However, he did not provide his recommendation and perhaps he was waiting for the meeting to do so. I believe we should meet and include the DFG biologist that is overseeing the program…Joel please contact the DFG Biologist and set up a meeting date/time…perhaps a Monday afternoon would work best.
Late yesterday afternoon I received a call from a pig hunter from the SF area, who was under the impression that we were cancelling future hunts. He was strongly suggesting a public forum (meeting) be presented so the public can have a chance to voice their concerns (and so that we could provide information as to the problems we have been encountering). I told him we have not decided to cancel future hunts, that park mgt. was going to meet (perhaps with DFG) to discuss whether to hold future hunts and in what format (I hinted that if they were held we may change the format), and that the decision would primarily be based on recommendations from park staff and DFG. I believe a forum and/or a synopsis of the program, including most of the information below (which would be mailed to every registered hunter from last two years), would help communication…and at least keep the hunters informed. The forum could be held at the Visitor Center in Sept or Oct.
Lastly, I suspect that the hunters may become organized and start to inundate us with phone calls….if you receive any, simply state no decision has been made and that they should put their concerns in writing and that we will use the information to assist us in making future decisions on hunts. I will do the same if I receive any calls.
Lake Sonoma/Warm Springs Dam
Why don't we select a date to meet and discuss these issues? Let me know what dates are best for you. Thanks
From: Miller, Joel D SPN
Sent: Wednesday, July 25, 2007 1:19 PM
Subject: 2007-2008 pig hunts?
(email from me to the head ranger and my park manager)
I've been getting phone calls from hunters all summer long asking if we were going to continue the pig hunts in the park. Can we get together to decide if we area going to do this or not?
Below are some of my thoughts on the issue.
The overall intended purpose of the hunts is to reduce the pig population in the area and corresponding damage caused by them. From what I have seen this past fall and winter, the population is down. Whether this is attributable to our hunting program is debatable and may just be a natural fluctuation in the population.
All of my hunting information that was stored is now missing so I can not provide any hard numbers, but on average I would say that between 150 and 300 hunters regularly participate in the hunts each month. The success rate is normally around 3% per month.
From my observations of the park land, I believe that the hunting program has not been successful in its intended goal of reducing damage done to the parks vegetation. Instead, the pigs seem to move to areas where they are under less pressure and continue to root up hillsides. I'm not sure how long hunting would need to continue before any noticeable change could be seen.
The USDA will trap and kill pigs in the park at no charge to the Corps. Trapping is more effective but is limited to areas where John can access by road.
We have received two phone reports of hunters threatening other visitors. (I do not consider these credible because the reporting party did not identify themselves and also claimed to have been threatened while hiking in an area where we have no trails to hike on!)
Last season, we had three pig carcasses left in the liberty glen campground by hunters.
We have received complaints on hunter trespass over the last two hunting seasons from four adjacent land owners. I investigated one report of hunter trespass and it is legitimate. Working with the DFG Game Warden and the land owner, we were able to determine who the hunter was who has been going onto private property above homestead primitive campground. DFG has arrested and prosecuted this individual before but was unable to successfully argue their case in court and was forced to return his hunting equipment. We will continue to have problems with the violator whether our hunt program continues or not. He was overheard in Oakland bragging about how he regularly hunted deer in our park out of season.
I do not think it is possible to monitor hunter’s activities on the park boundary nor should it be our responsibility to enforce our neighbor’s private property rights. The size of our project is too large and it is impossible for the ranger staff to ensuring that hunters remain on our property. Our boundaries are clearly marked including the areas where we have had complaints from adjacent land owners, so the problem is not one of signage.
I have also received reports from registered pig hunters of rifle hunters coming over from adjacent property. Hunter trespass seems to go both ways in these areas and I have recovered rifle shell casings in the area. (Again whether these were from illegal hunting or a DFG monitored rifle hunt cannot be determined.)
OK, below are some of the best arguments I can come up with for continuing the hunting program.
Our project is the only park in the state that has an exclusive "bow hunting only" season for wild boar.
Hunters are now coming from as far away as Nevada and Colorado to take part in these hunts.
They do put pressure on the pig population in areas where it would be difficult or imposable to trap them.
They bring up to 300 additional visitors into the park and surrounding community during our off season.
To date, no one has been seriously injured as a result of these hunts.
They can be used as an additional for of revenue if desired.
1) Cancel the open hunts
2) Continue the hunts
3) Modify the hunts (limit number of hunter and abolish self registration)
4) Have DFG take over the pig hunts
Finally, what action will be in the public's interest and our agency goals?