Taking a much-needed hike through some trails in my counties park, it’s hard to not notice all the destruction done by wild hogs, or as we call them down here: boar. The name “boar” refers to Eurasian wild boar, which does not exist in Florida. Wild hogs here are made up of domestic hogs and hybrid Eurasian boar, meaning the name “boar” is all wrong, but for some reason the name boar has stuck around. Wild hogs are considered to be very problematic in Florida, meaning they can be destructive to habitats, wildlife, and agriculture. They also carry diseases which can be carried onto humans, domestic animals, and wildlife. There are over 500,000 hogs in every county in Florida, with many found north and west of Lake Okeechobee. Hogs breed year-round having at least two litters a year of 1-13 piglet per litter.
Wild hogs tend to live for four to five years, with the lucky exception of some living eight years. With hunting season for wild hogs permitted year-round on private land, humans are the greatest predator to wild hogs, but alligators, black bears and Florida panthers are also a threat. Wild hogs provide a large food source for Florida panthers, and when trapped or hunted by landowners, the hog gets sold for its meat or to hunting preserves. Because of the large density of wild hogs and the destruction they do, many people prefer them to be gone all together.
“When natural foods are scarce or inaccessible, hogs will readily consume almost any agricultural crop and feed set out for livestock and wildlife, leading to significant losses. Wild hogs will also feed on tree seeds and seedlings, causing damage to forests, orchards, and plantations. In Florida and the Southeast, this can be a serious problem in the regeneration of long-leaf pine forests. Hogs rub trees to scratch themselves. In addition, males will often “tusk” small trees, scraping off the bark with their tusks, in what is thought to be a dominance display. Such actions can seriously damage the trees. In addition to the impacts of consuming, trampling, and rubbing large amounts of native vegetation and crops, the rooting behavior of hogs also causes damage. Rooting (digging for foods below the surface of the ground) destabilizes the soil surface, which can lead to erosion and exotic plant establishment; uprooting or weakening of native vegetation; and damage to lawns, dikes, roads, trails, recreation areas, and other structures. Wallowing behavior can impact small ponds and stream banks, and lead to declines in water quality.” – Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Florida’s goals are not to abolish wild hogs all together, in fact, without these hogs Florida panthers, alligators and black bears would lose a source of food and a fun chase. We would also lose hog meat and I wouldn’t be able to listen for their cute little snorts in the woods behind my house. We need to focus on controlling wild hogs, not eliminating them. After all, they are just trying to raise a family and live off the land like any wildlife here does.
There are several ways you can steer wild hogs away from your land without having to shoot them. One way is to build a fence to keep them out, though this can be a pricey option. Another option is to call your local Fish and Wildlife Conservation to have them removed, or you can set a large cage trap and relocate them yourself. Though wild hogs are not an original species to Florida, they serve as a food source for humans and other Florida wildlife. Every being has a reason to be here on this earth, even the disliked Florida “boar”.