Wild Hogs going Hog Wild in Florida

J. Harris

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https://research.ufl.edu/publications/explore/v10n3/extract6.html

There is another animal that is not friendly and is invasive in Florida, the wild boar.

Upwards of 9 million wild boar roam 39 states across the US up from an estimated 2 million in 17 states three decades ago. They are causing problems with their piggish behavior for every environment from residential and commercial, to agricultural and all flora and fauna.

Texas is the only state with more wild boar than Florida. They are such prolific breeders there is no way to keep their population down. The problem started in1539 when Hernando DeSoto brought hogs into southwest Florida, and some of them found freedom in the New World. The northwest of Lake Okeechobee where it is more forested is where you can find most of the population although they are in every county in Florida. Large forested tracts, dense vegetation, abundant water, and limited public access provide an ideal environment for the pigs. Hog numbers tend to be lower in areas with intensive agriculture or urban development.

They are considered the most destructive species in the country. They are the greatest wildlife challenge that the U.S. faces in the 21st century. They trash watersheds and destroy crops and attack livestock as well as spread disease, desecrate archeological sites, and terrorize residents. Tomato crops and watermelon fields can be destroyed overnight looking like a blast site similar to a field that has had mortar shell activity.

Tampa and Orlando are a growing areas since severe population growth during the pandemic is causing a housing boom. Areas that were densely populated by the hogs are now becoming more populated by the inland sprawl which includes housing developments, red-roofed tract homes, and retirement communities. People are living closer to hogs than ever before. When the developments go up the hogs leave for a while but come back when communities are built.They tear down fencing and trash yards.

Wild hogs compete for food with other game animals such as deer, turkeys, and squirrels, and they may consume the nests and the young of many reptiles, ground-nesting birds, and mammals. With their fine sense of smell, wild hogs can find and consume young domestic livestock, including poultry, lambs, and goats. Millions of dollars are spent each year to prevent damage from hogs.

Rooting — digging for foods below the surface of the ground — destabilizes the soil surface, uprooting or weakening native vegetation, damaging lawns and causing erosion. Their wallowing behavior destroys small ponds and stream banks, which may affect water quality. They also prey upon ground-nesting wildlife, including sea turtles.

"Hogs can also host many diseases and parasites, including hog cholera, pseudorabies, brucellosis, tuberculosis, salmonellosis, anthrax, ticks, fleas, lice, and various flukes and worms," says Bill Giuliano, who conducts research on the animals with George Tanner, a professor in the UF wildlife ecology and conservation department.

The hog issues are not solvable even when they are captured, sterilized, killed, sold for hunting, and released elsewhere. The traps are ineffectual as some hogs have learned how to eat around the bate so the trap is not sprung. These are very intelligent animals. Poison bate was used but there were concerns that it would also poison the environment and ecosystem so it was taken off the market. Hog hunters have year-round hunting with no-kill limits in Florida.

This is an ongoing problem and commercial hunting ranches in Florida are open to residents and tourists year-round. They can cost over $100,000 for an annual membership or $5,000 a hunt.

Alligators, waterfowl, deer, bison, and boar are the primary targets.

Jo Ann Harris is an author, parent, book devotee, writer, copywriter, and film fanatic. She is an autodidact who learns about everything and rows her own boat. She grew up and worked in Atlanta, Georgia, and lived there sixty years. She writes articles about love, hope, personal life stories, advice, and poems. She is a published author with an article published in Woman’s World magazine in October 2017.

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I usually write about a lot of subject matter from my own personal life to animal behavior. Everything in between. I have been writing for over two years but have always been a writer and avid reader. I lived in Atlanta, GA for sixty years then moved to South Florida and it was a huge change for me. I write truth as I see it in hopes it will help others.

Plantation, FL
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