Officials promote feral hog hunting to protect native wildlife

Feral pigs are going hog-wild on land in Hillsborough County and officials with the Southwest Florida Water Management District say the creatures are destroying vital landscapes.

“These feral hogs can churn up the ground and literally change the vegetative structure," said Chris Reed, the land management section director. “They’re looking for worms. They’ll eat snakes. They have voracious appetites.”

Beginning Nov. 5, the Southwest Florida Water Management District is allowing feral hog hunting in certain areas to cut back on the destruction.

Reed said their wide snouts allow hogs to turn up the soil so they can get at roots, acorns, and other tree nuts. It leaves the land looking like a plowed field.

Hogs were introduced into Florida centuries ago by Spanish explorers and the population has grown ever since. Reed said the population needs to be depleted by 70% before the landscape can begin to look normal again.

"They can change the natural systems out here and impact the plants and animals that are thriving," he explained.

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There are three phases of feral hog hunts. Permits for phase 1 are sold out. Permits for phase 2, which takes place in January and February 2020, will go on sale Dec. 17, 2019.

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