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The Pigs Are Already Dead, 9th Circuit Rules

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - The wild pigs on Santa Cruz Island are dead, and with them a legal challenge to the National Park Service's method of killing the swine, which were blamed for a destructive chain reaction on the island. The 9th Circuit said it's too late for the pigs to be sterilized or shipped to the mainland, as animal activists urged, because the Park Service had already "completely eradicated" the island's feral pig population.

The Park Service decided to kill the non-native pigs to keep them from decimating Santa Cruz Island, an island off the California coast that's part of the Channel Island National Park. The swine had been destroying the island's resources by rooting in the soil, destroying endangered vegetation, causing erosion and damaging archaeological artifacts.

Additionally, piglets served as the primary food source for the golden eagle, another non-native species, which hunted and decimated the native fox population.

The Park Service decided that the pigs would have to go to recover the foxes. After rejecting all proposed non-lethal methods and considering kill tactics such as snares, poison and swine diseases, it found that "a well-placed gunshot was far more efficient and often more humane."

Richard Feldman, Robert Lee Puddicombe and In Defense of Animals sought an injunction against the solution, but the Park Service announced a successful hunt in an Aug. 28, 2007 press release:

"Launched in 2005, the eradication program was completed in record time by Prohunt Inc. ... A total of 5,036 pigs were dispatched using non-lead bullets and following euthanasia guidelines set forth by the American Medical Veterinary Association." See ruling.

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