They're nothing like Babe or Wilbur in "Charlotte's Web."
These pigs are the bane of property owners throughout FishHawk Ranch.
Feral hogs tear up landscaping by rooting for food, threaten humans and pets with their razor-sharp tusks and even carry several diseases that can be transmitted to humans.
So, beginning this month, the United States Department of Agriculture will begin removing hogs from the conservation areas surrounding FishHawk Ranch.
According to Jeremy Butts of the department's Wildlife Services program, USDA employees driving federal vehicles with U.S. government license plates and USDA plaques on the site will be driving through the neighborhoods regularly over the next year, searching for feral hogs. The employees may be seen in the early morning or late evening hours when the hogs venture out of the conservation areas into the neighborhoods.
Seen throughout Florida and Texas, feral hogs are also called feral pigs, wild boar, wild hogs or razorbacks.
According to the Department of Natural Resources, these hogs are quickly wearing out their welcome, having tremendous negative impacts on native plants, native wildlife, livestock, agriculture and humans.
The feral swine eat acorns and other nuts, and directly compete with deer, bears, turkey, squirrels and waterfowl for food. They also consume nests and eggs of ground-nesting birds and reptiles as well as fawns and young domestic livestock.
They also eat almost any agricultural crop as well as tree seeds and seedlings. Their rooting and wallowing habits destroy crops and native vegetation, cause erosion and negatively affect water quality.
With their sharp tusks, they can pose a hazard to pets and humans that might happen upon them.
In addition, the can transmit several serious diseases including swine brucellosis, E. coli, trichinosis and pseudorabies to livestock or humans. Some of these diseases, if introduced to domestic swine, can decimate the pork industry.
About Feral Hogs
According to the University of Florida extension website, feral pigs look very similar to the domestic pig, though they can vary greatly in color and size. The average wild sow weighs about 110 pounds, and the average wild boar about 130 pounds, although unusually large, trophy-sized feral pigs have grown to be more than 500 pounds.
The animals are generally black but have colors and patterns that range from solid black, gray, brown, blonde, white or red to spotted. Boars have four tusks that can be extremely sharp and about 3 to 5 inches in length or longer.
Wild Boars in America
Feral pigs are related to domestic pigs that were introduced from Europe to the Americas by Spanish explorers, according to UF scientists. It's believed that hogs were first brought to Florida in 1539 by Hernando de Soto, to a settlement at Charlotte Harbor in Lee County, though Ponce de Leon could have brought them to the same site in 1521.
The animals proliferated over the next four centuries as they were raised by Europeans and Native Americans. Many escaped from captivity and and established feral populations throughout Florida, according to the UF website. Today, feral pigs can be found in at least 23 states and have an estimated population of around four million.
For More Information
Eric Dailey, district manager for FishHawk CDD, FishHawk CDD II and FishHawk CDD III, emphasized that the USDA is only monitoring areas within the boundaries of the CDDs, not in areas not located within the CDD boundaries.
For more information on wild hogs, visit the University of Florida extension website.
For questions about this feral hog removal program withinin FishHawk CDD, FishHawk CDD II and FishHawk CDD III, contact the Resident Services Office at 813-654-6360 or the CDD district manager at 813-933-5571.