Whatever you call them…feral hog, feral swine, feral pig, wild boar, wild pig or piney woods rooter…wild hogs, thought to have been introduced by Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto in the 1500’s, are a problem for Florida’s landowners, farmers and native species.
The pesky intruders, which can grow to more than 150 pounds and measure five to six feet long, compete for food with native wildlife such as deer, squirrels and turkeys, destroy native vegetation in sensitive wetland habitats, consume agricultural crops and livestock feed, damage lawns and landscaping on private property and prey on birds, turtles and young domestic livestock. They also can carry parasites and diseases, like pseudorabies and swine brucellosis, which can be transmitted to livestock, pets and people.
To help cull the population, Southwest Florida Water Management District will open Phase 2 hog hunt on wildlife management areas (WMAs) across the state, which will include five hunts that will occur January through February 2023. Registration for the event, now in its 14th consecutive year, begins on Tues., Dec. 13 at 9 a.m. and requires a $75 nonrefundable fee for each permit, which is transferable. A hunting license isn’t needed to hunt wild hogs at a WMA, but a management area permit is required.
Hunt areas include the Alston Tract at Upper Hillsborough Preserve, Chito Branch Reserve, Flying Eagle Nature Center, Halpata Tastanaki Preserve and Hampton Tract at Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve. Last year’s hunts removed 656 hogs on nine different tracts of land throughout the District.
The single top producer on each hunt of Phase 2 will be placed on the District’s “top producer” list and will be contacted between March and October 2023 to take part in feral hog management hunts on an as-needed basis.
“I’m pleased that we can offer opportunities for the public to hunt feral hogs on District conservation lands,” said land management manager Chris Reed. “It’s critical that we take this invasive species seriously and managing their population is important for our water resources and our region’s agriculture production.”
For more information, visit the District’s website at www.WaterMatters.org/HogHunts.