Put Feral Pigs In Their Place

Feral hogs confined in a pen.

While no one really knows just how much financial damage wild hogs are causing in Florida, everyone knows there are plenty around. Estimates put the population at roughly 500,000 in the state, which ranks Florida second only behind Texas in the number of feral hogs in the U.S.

Jim Snively, vice president of grove operations for Southern Gardens Citrus, says their groves are like many ag operations in the state seeing hogs year-round. “Most of our damage is experienced in the tree middles on the tops of our bedded citrus as well as the water furrows in between our rows,” he says. “On the top of the beds, it creates a rough terrain that causes equipment damage as well as safety hazards for our operators. In the water furrows, it causes the same issues as well as disruption in the drainage of the grove.”

Opportunistic Survivors

According to Ken Gioeli, natural resources Extension agent with UF/IFAS, wild hogs prefer large forested areas with abundant food, particularly acorns, interspersed with marshes, hammocks, ponds, and drainages. Thick cover is used as bedding areas and provides the protection they seek. Their ability to adapt and prolific breeding are the primary reasons they’ve become such a problem in the state.
“Wild hogs consume far more plant material than animal material,” says Gioeli. “Their opportunistic tendencies often lead them to forage in agricultural lands and forest plantations where they can cause significant losses of crops including corn, rice, sorghum, melons, peanuts, forage grasses, grains, various vegetables, and tree seedlings. Wild hogs also will exploit game feeders placed for deer, turkey, and other wildlife, and may destroy wildlife food plots by rooting. Wallowing also is a problem.”

Survey Says

To get a better handle on the extent of the feral hog problem, Joanna Huffman conducted a survey of Florida land managers for her UF/IFAS Master Naturalist certification project. 58.8% of respondents indicated they were experiencing moderate damage, while 20% indicated
severe damage.

With nearly 80% of land managers experiencing moderate to severe damage to wild hog populations, it is little wonder that many are trying a variety of measures to control the pest. Hunting and trapping is the most popular means of hog control. Survey results show 60% of respondents used hunting for control and 51% indicated using trapping.
When asked how effective their feral hog control strategies have been, 47% of respondents indicated the practices they currently used were only marginally effective, while 25% of them indicated total failure.

While hunting is the most popular means of hog mitigation, it is unlikely this measure alone will help eradicate or limit wild populations. Gioeli says it likely will take a combination of measures to fight the problem.
“Historically, we used hunters with dogs to reduce the population; however, with canker and liability issues (dogs don’t know property lines), we switched to trapping,” says Jerry Newlin, vice president of grove operations for Orange-Co. “As it turned out, trapping has been much more successful reducing the numbers. Unfortunately, you do encounter ‘trap wise’ hogs that are just about impossible to catch. When that happens, we work with the Fish and Wildlife Commission and hunt the tough-to-catch hogs — usually at night.”

“Current control strategies being employed have resulted in marginal success and a quarter of the land managers indicate total failure to manage feral hogs,” says Gioeli. “There is need for a follow-up survey to determine if there are policy or regulatory roadblocks inhibiting the effectiveness of feral hog management on private and public lands in Florida.”

Setting Sights On Hogs

  • Hunting is an important control method for wild hogs because it provides recreational opportunities, is inexpensive, and can be useful in reducing the numbers of adult animals. Hogs are typically hunted in stands over bait such as corn or other grains. Dogs also may be used in hunting to locate and hold them at bay until hunters can catch or kill them. However, the dogs must be properly trained to avoid potential injury from the wild hog.
  • Trapping is usually more effective than hunting, especially when the animals are active at night. Trap types include cages, leg-holds, and snares. Cages are considered most efficient. Corral cages can capture large numbers of hogs. These cages should be placed in shaded areas where hog traffic is active. These traps should be pre-baited for several days so the hogs become accustomed to entering the trap and it betters the chances of catching more animals at once. Steel leg holds or snares have been used to capture hogs, but are not recommended. They are less effective and illegal in Florida without a special permit.
  • Shooting at night can be an effective control measure if hunting and other human activities stimulate the hogs to become nocturnal and trapping is less effective. Spotlights and other night vision optics can aid in this approach. Individuals should consult with Fish and Wildlife Commission officials for applicable regulations and permits.
  • Excluding hogs with fencing is an effective but expensive control option. However, hogs are intelligent and resourceful animals and often find ways through many types of fencing. Chain-link fences, heavy-gauge hog wire buried at least 1 foot with heavy supports and posts, mesh fencing, or multistranded electric fence provide the best results.
Topics:

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories

CitrusIt’s Time For Young Farming Leaders To Engage [Opinion]
October 21, 2014
Florida Grower editor Frank Giles says there are capable and talented youths in the ag field ready to step up and take the reins. Read More
Farm ManagementResearchers Finding Biofuel Fits For Florida
October 21, 2014
Alternative crops identified that are suited for the state's climate and can easily be processed for power. Read More
CitrusBayer CropScience Launches New Award To Recognize Produce Industry Innovators
October 21, 2014
Award recognizes innovation that enhances the role of produce in creating better lives. Read More
FruitsCalifornia Department Of Food And Agriculture Awards $3.6 Million To Assist Farmers With Drought
October 21, 2014
State Water Efficiency And Enhancement Program highlights projects implement irrigation systems that reduce water and energy use. Read More
FruitsWashington State University Researchers See How Plants Optimize Repair Of Sun Damage
October 21, 2014
Results could lead to development of crops that recover from sun damage more easily. Read More
CitrusReport: Major Food And Agriculture Employers Can’t Fill Vital Jobs
October 21, 2014
Current shortage of young farming professionals means ample employment opportunity for the next generation. Read More
More Vegetables6 Savory Tomato And Pepper Varieties For Florida Growers
October 20, 2014
Leading vegetable seed companies highlight a half dozen high-performance selections for producers in the Sunshine State. Read More
CitrusGrowers Need To Take The Ball And Run — Now! [Opinion]
October 18, 2014
Help yourself, your farm, and fellow colleagues by becoming more involved in your industry. Read More
CitrusLegendary Florida Citrus Grower And Advocate Passes
October 17, 2014
Joe L. Davis Sr. will be remembered for his straight talk and sage advice. Read More

The Latest

CitrusIt’s Time For Young Farming Leaders To Engage [Op…
October 21, 2014
Florida Grower editor Frank Giles says there are capable and talented youths in the ag field ready to step up and take the reins. Read More
Farm ManagementResearchers Finding Biofuel Fits For Florida
October 21, 2014
Alternative crops identified that are suited for the state's climate and can easily be processed for power. Read More
CitrusBayer CropScience Launches New Award To Recognize Produ…
October 21, 2014
Award recognizes innovation that enhances the role of produce in creating better lives. Read More
FruitsCalifornia Department Of Food And Agriculture Awards $3…
October 21, 2014
State Water Efficiency And Enhancement Program highlights projects implement irrigation systems that reduce water and energy use. Read More
FruitsWashington State University Researchers See How Plants …
October 21, 2014
Results could lead to development of crops that recover from sun damage more easily. Read More
CitrusReport: Major Food And Agriculture Employers Can’t Fi…
October 21, 2014
Current shortage of young farming professionals means ample employment opportunity for the next generation. Read More
Apples & PearsInvasive Pest Found First Time In U.S. At Border Crossi…
October 20, 2014
Moth known to feed on apples, apple buds, leaves, and shoots, is found in a container full of pump valves originating in China. Read More
More Vegetables6 Savory Tomato And Pepper Varieties For Florida Grower…
October 20, 2014
Leading vegetable seed companies highlight a half dozen high-performance selections for producers in the Sunshine State. Read More
CitrusGrowers Need To Take The Ball And Run — Now! [Opi…
October 18, 2014
Help yourself, your farm, and fellow colleagues by becoming more involved in your industry. Read More
CitrusLegendary Florida Citrus Grower And Advocate Passes
October 17, 2014
Joe L. Davis Sr. will be remembered for his straight talk and sage advice. Read More
GrapesNew American Viticultural Area In Northern California E…
October 17, 2014
“Eagle Peak Mendocino County” lies entirely within the North Coast viticultural area. Read More
GrapesMapping Grape Crown Gall Tumor Disease
October 17, 2014
Scientists are close to cracking the disease’s genetic code, a major boon to vineyard protection. Read More
NutsAlmond Growers To Promote Bee Health
October 16, 2014
Almond Board of California announces comprehensive Best Management Practices. Read More
Cucurbits6 Juicy Watermelon Selections For The Sunshine State
October 16, 2014
Leading vegetable seed companies highlight a half dozen high-performance varieties for Florida producers. Read More
CitrusDiversification Is King For Small Farm’s Success
October 16, 2014
Being flexible and adapting to the times critical for Central Florida's Vo-LaSalle Farms. Read More
CitrusAsian Citrus Psyllid Moves Into Northern California
October 15, 2014
First detections made of damaging insect in Santa Clara and San Joaquin counties. Read More
Farm ManagementVidalia Onion Committee Reaches Younger Audience with D…
October 15, 2014
“V is for Vidalia” campaign focused on social and digital media outreach. Read More
VegetablesSakata Seed America To Debut “Tasty 10 By Sakata Coll…
October 15, 2014
The collection includes a new variety and will be launched at the PMA Fresh Summit Oct 17-19. Read More