What are “Feral Hogs” or “Feral Pigs” in Florida?
Feral pigs in Florida are the same genus and species as domesticated stock (Sus scrofa) (Giuliano 2010). The term “feral” is an animal in a wild state, especially after escape from captivity or domestication. There are basically three general types of feral pigs: swines from domestication, Eurasian wild boars, and a hybrid of the two.
When did feral pigs arrive in Florida?
It is believed that Hernando de Soto first brought swine to Lee County in 1539. Ponce de Leon might have also brought swines to Florida in 1521. Eurasian wild pigs were released in New Hampshire in 1886 for hunting purposes.
Why are feral pigs considered a nuisance by some?
1. They eat food sources typically eaten by deer, turkeys and squirrels. Acorns are a tasty part of their diet.
2. They eat eggs and young birds, reptiles, mammals and amphibians.
3. When natural food sources are scarce, they will consume agricultural produce.
4. They eat seedlings and tree seeds.
5. Their rooting causes significant damage as does rubbing and trampling on vegetation.
6. They can harbor diseases and parasites that can be transmitted to native wildlife, livestock and people.
7. They can be aggressive.
On private land in Florida, are wild hogs considered domestic livestock and the property of the landowner where they are found?
What type of habitat can they be found in?
Feral pigs prefer large forested areas with an abundance of acorns, but they can be found in a variety of other areas including marshes, pinelands, hardwood hammocks, swamps and others. They will occasionally be found on agricultural lands.
What are methods are used to manage nuisance feral pigs?
Since feral pigs are considered livestock on private lands, there is no closed season, bag limit or size limit. On public lands, the property managers may designate specific seasons and require permits and licensing to hunt feral pigs. In general, hunting and trapping are used. Fences can be useful but must be sturdy. Feral pigs are intelligent and determined animals that will probe for weaknesses in the fencing.
Refer to Dr. Giuliano’s publication on Wild Hogs in Florida for additional details on management.
Giuliano, W. Originally Published March 2010. Wild Hogs in Florida: Ecology and Management. UF/IFAS EDIS http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/uw322
Banner photo credits: Jerry Bott, Florida Master Naturalist