Frustrated residents seek alternative to shooting 'destructive' hogs

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Neighbors in a Sun City Center community are fed up with wild hogs that have been “terrorizing" the neighborhood and tearing up yards.

Jim Downie was on vacation in Denver and, from nearly 2,000 miles away, he watched a live feed of his surveillance cameras as wild hogs destroyed his yard, rooting for anything they could eat.

"Their numbers are close to 15 again when they come and raid the yard," Downie said. "They're coming out of the woods and they just wreak havoc. They come in the morning, they come in the early evening, they come all hours during the night -- 1 a.m., 3 a.m., 4 a.m. -- it doesn't matter to them, it's how hungry they are." 

The hogs live in Little Manatee State Park and don’t have to walk very far to cross into the community.

Downie, who lives on Berry Roberts Drive, said this is the third time a group of pigs have torn up his yard since January.

"They've become progressively more damaging, destructive and brazen," he said. "It's a lot of time and effort and money and they just don't go away."

Other neighbors, including Gail Dudley, told FOX 13 this has been an issue since at least 2014.

Dudley said she's been coming up with different ways to try to keep the hogs away, including sprinkling moth balls along the perimeter of her yard, building a natural barrier out of debris and now stringing a clothes line with cans to make noise.

"It's very frustrating," Dudley offered. "We're doing everything that we can, but ultimately the problem is coming from the conservation area, which is not our property."

"We're at a quandary right now on what to do," Downie added. "It's our neighborhood now. But whose neighborhood is it going to be if they keep populating?"

Downie and Dudley said several local and state officials have suggested shooting the hogs on their private property, which, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife, is legal. But Downie, who is a licensed gun owner, said he'd be concerned about accidentally hitting a person or home. He believes the state should build a fence around the park's perimeter.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection oversees the state park said the agency is looking into the issue and, in a statement to FOX 13, said:

"Each year, feral hogs are removed from Florida State Parks to ensure visitor safety and to protect our natural resources. Feral hogs can cause damage to structures and property, while also disrupting and damaging native plants and animals. State Parks work with many partners on the management of feral hogs statewide including the US Department of Agriculture, Wildlife Services who offers this management service nationwide. The Department of Environmental Protection continues to coordinate with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for addressing wildlife management and resources."