Feral hogs are wild animals originated from domestic livestock. The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) considers feral hogs an invasive exotic species.
They negatively impact wetlands and other habitats by "rooting" up the soil searching for food. They prey on native wildlife, compete with native species for food and transmit diseases to other wildlife, livestock and humans.
Hernando de Soto brought the first hogs to the Atlantic Coast of Florida in 1539.
Severe hog-rooting disturbance along stream banks and river floodplain areas can lead to increased erosion and sediment loading, affecting sites downstream. Other wildlife species using the lands could be affected by disease transmission and competition for food. Additionally, hogs may facilitate the spread of exotic plant species by transporting seeds and/or providing germination sites through rooting.
The exact number of hogs on any large tract is impractical to determine. Land managers monitor population trends through visual sightings of animals and observing trends in rooting damage.
Just like invasive exotic plant control, feral hog control is an integral part of public conservation land stewardship in Florida.
The technology does not currently exist to completely eradicate feral hogs from Florida landscape. The District’s objective is to minimize feral hog damage by controlling their numbers at minimum possible levels.
The hogs are humanely dispatched and disposed of either onsite or offsite.
It is contrary to proper exotic species control to release the exotic species back into the landscape.
Currently, removing the animals from the landscape through hunting or trapping is the only viable method of hog control in Florida.
Feral hogs are omnivores, which means they eat both plant and animal matter. Plant material makes up the bulk of the hog’s diet, with acorn and palmetto mast being a large seasonal component. Animal material in the diet consists of invertebrates and small vertebrates, such as amphibians.
A feral hog may exceed 200 pounds, but the average is less than 100 pounds.
Litter sizes vary. Some literature states the average litter size is four to six piglets and 55% reach sexual maturity. However, this varies from area to area. Feral hogs become reproductively active at 20 to 51 weeks of age and can produce up to two litters per year. Gestation period is around 116 days.
Like any other wild animal, hogs can be dangerous if threatened or with young.
Yes. Hogs can carry a number of diseases transmittable to humans or domestic animals. Primary diseases of concern in Florida are brucellosis, leptospirosis and pseudorabies.
Large hogs have few predators on District lands. Smaller hogs may be preyed upon by bobcats and coyotes. Man is the primary predator of hogs.
District lands are open for multiple uses that provide various recreational opportunities. The District balances the types of recreational uses that are best suited for each tract. Hunting is limited to larger tracts of land during specific seasons. During other times, the areas are open for other recreational uses.